clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC Submissions on the Decline? Nothing to See Here

On the morning after UFC 96, I noted that there hadn't been any submissions in Saturday night's fights, meaning that in three of the UFC's last four pay-per-views, not a single fight had ended in a submission. I wondered whether submissions are on the decline in MMA.

I wasn't the only one wondering.

Josh Gross of had this to say:
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.

Just once has the UFC come up short on submissions in consecutive events. Way back when, in 1996, UFC 9 and 10 saw plenty of finishes, just not a tap from a rear-naked choke, triangle, armbar or countless other ways to end a fight via lock or choke. Understandably, that was an entirely different era.

Because of several factors -- the rising number of well-rounded, competent fighters, for instance -- submissions are clearly tougher to come by these days.
But can we say for sure that submissions are on the decline? Mike Fagan of Bloody Elbow crunched the numbers and found that there's really been no drop-off in submissions.

According to Fagan, there have been 845 UFC fights since the introduction of the Unified Rules of MMA in September of 2000. Of those, 222, or 26.3 percent, have ended in a submission.

And there hasn't been any statistically significant decline in that rate recently. Looking only at the fights in the last three years, 27.3 percent have ended in submission. In the past two years, that figure has been 26.7 percent. There has been a very slight decline in the past year, to 23.1 percent, but that's not nearly enough to call it a trend.

So yes, it's true that UFC 92, UFC 94 and UFC 96 were all submission-free. But last month's Ultimate Fight Night had six submissions out of 10 fights. And overall, the tiny decline in submissions over the last year has been statistical noise, not a sign that submissions are on the decline.