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Where Have All The Submissions Gone?

Dustin HazelettJosh Gross will have you believe that the number of submissions in mixed martial arts are seriously diminishing and that we may simply be watching a poor form of kick boxing at this point. I must say that upon reading his article, I very much agreed with him.

Perhaps it’s too soon to call it a trend, but the lack of submissions during UFC 96 is worth discussing. Saturday’s card in Columbus marked the third event in the organization’s last six that failed to produce a submission (tapout to choke or joint lock).

Prior to UFC 96, 94 and 92, the last time a UFC card finished submission-less was February 2007, at UFC 67 — a span of 36 events. Over the course of 94 Zuffa-era UFC events, only eight have failed to yield some sort of submission. That three of those cards took place in the past four months is at a minimum noteworthy, at worst disconcerting.

Like I said, he makes a very good point and, perhaps, it is something that must be discussed. Mike Fagan over at Bloody Elbow continues the discussion and, in doing so, completely changes my mind on the matter.

Being a big follower of sabermetrics and sabermetric thought, it irks me when people make blanket statements based strictly off personal observation. I assume Gross has access to a fight database, and it wouldn’t be hard to test his theories with concrete data. I’m not as lazy though, so here you go:


Since September 2000 (introduction of the Unified Rules)
845 fights
222 submissions
26.3% submission rate

In the past 3 years
545 fights
149 submissions
27.3% submission rate

In the past 2 years
386 fights
103 submissions
26.7% submission rate

In the past year
204 fights
47 submissions
23.1% submission rate

Fagan goes on to reveal that the average number of submissions has ranged from between 25-27%, and that in this last year it would only take five more submissions to raise the percentage to a respectable 25.5%. I think we can all agree that there really is nothing like the awe factor that results from a knockout, but the technical jiu-jitsu game in mixed martial arts is really a thing of beauty. Mixed martial arts fans always claim that their sport is far more exciting when compared to boxing due simply to the many different ways to emerge victorious. Here’s to hoping that the fighters continue to train in all disciplines and respect the sport as a whole.

Either way, knockout or submission, as long as fighters are finishing fights I believe that the fans will remain happy.

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Fight Cards

Bellator 163: McGeary vs. Davis

Event Date: November 4, 2016
Broadcast: Spike

UFC Fight Night 98: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson

Event Date: November 5, 2016
Broadcast: TBD

Bellator 164: Koreshkov vs. Lima

Event Date: November 11, 2016
Broadcast: Spike Sports

UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor

Event Date: November 12, 2016
Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass

Bellator 165: Chandler Vs. Henderson

Event Date: November 19, 2016
Broadcast: Spike TV

UFC Fight Night 99: Mousasi vs. Hall 2

Event Date: November 19, 2016
Broadcast: TBD