Earlier this year when the above video of what appeared to be a significant mismatch at the XPlode Fight Series made the rounds on the internet Suzanne Davis (whom I only have the pleasure of knowing via her twitter handle @SoozieCuzie) decided to do some digging into the quality of matchmaking of this MMA organization.
Today Davis published the raw data she compiled after weeks of work which can be found here. She further published an analysis of the raw numbers which led to the following troublesome conclusion:
The average Winner’s record was 5.88 wins, 2.50 losses. The average Loser’s record was 1.22 wins, 4.07 losses. The average Both-ers record was pretty even at 5.79 wins, 5.75 losses.
Going into this project, I thought the major contributing factor would be the disparity in fight experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a massive difference, but the numbers that stood out the most to me were the win/loss percentages. The Winner’s win percentage is obviously quite high, the Loser’s loss percentage is obviously quite high and, conveniently, the percentage for Both-ers is virtually identical. Yes, I should have been able to predict the win/loss percent based on everything above, but seeing it was so much more impactful…
At best, the events that Xplode Fight Series promotes are nearly farcical and all-but-pre-scripted. (Even that is up for debate.) At worse, they’re negligent and dangerous. Yes, yes…the old adage of ”they know what could happen when they signed up for it” applies. Still, promoters and commissions are responsible for the safety those same fighters disregard.
The sport we watch finds ways to mix brutality and beauty and blood. It also mixes heart, strategy, and determination. I’d like to see them come out of the cage (or ring) as close as possible to the same way they went in.
Matchmaking in MMA is critical. It does not take deep analysis to appreciate the need for a relatively even playing field in a potentially dangerous sport. Davis’ efforts should be applauded and I encourage those interested in the integrity of the sport to review her study in full. Promoters, matchmakers and Athletic Commissions would be wise to take competitor safety seriously and take reasonable steps to ensure fair competition in combative sports.