No Country for Old Men: Crunching Numbers: Issue of Fighter Age w/ Graphs and Data
This is the first hard data I've ever seen compiled on the subject of age and MMA success. The writer is questioning the chance of a 34 year old Kos vs. a 28 year old Hendicks based on available data. The results are intriguing, and thought you may be interested. Thank Luke Thomas of BE and MMAFighting.
Crunching Numbers: Josh Koscheck and the Issue of Fighter Age - MMA Fighting
First, let's answer the basic question: do younger fighters win more often? Statistically speaking, the answer is yes. Consider the following:
What do we know about age and how it affects performance in MMA? There are two key takeaways every MMA fan should know: younger fighters on average never win less than 50% of the time and older fighters are much more likely to lose by TKO/KO than by decision.
Winner is Younger Winner is Older All Fights
Total Fights 1489 (57%) 1111 (43%) 2600*
(T)KO Wins 559 (61%) 359 (39%) 918
Sub Wins 422 (57%) 322 (43%) 744
Dec Wins 505 (54%) 430 (46%) 935
Mean Winner's Age 27.0 31.0 28.7
Mean Loser's Age 31.8 27.1 29.8
Mean Age Difference 4.8 4.0 4.4
Mean Fight Length 08:57 09:50 09:20
There aren't a ton of surprises here ...... younger fighters win more often (57% in this particular sample) and also hold statistical advantages in finishes albeit less so for decisions.
Younger Fighters' Win% Across Age Differences
The bottom numbers represent age difference in years. For starters, younger opposition have at least a 50% chance of winning at all times. The upward trend in the graph overall (with one lone exception) tells as age discrepancy matters. It's also intriguing that even in cases where both fighters are considered 'young' - say 22 and 23 years old - the younger of the two still holds a statistical advantage.
In the case I started this article off with - Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks - the age disparity is 6 years. Historically, the younger fighter in those circumstances has won 60% of the time.
Younger fighters tend to win more and sometimes by big margins, but it's when researchers factored in the method of victory things got really interesting. "Variation by type of victory depends on the age of the older fighter, not on the age of the younger fighter," the researchers said. "More precisely, we can say that as the older fighter’s age increases, his chance of getting knocked out increases substantially, his chance of getting submitted increases but somewhat less, but his chance of losing a decision stays relatively flat":
But I also can't escape the numbers. I don't want to dwell on them too much, but I want to leave you with one final reminder about what the relationship of age and performance in MMA this time courtesy of Fight Matrix (who assembled their own data). What we have below is the winning percentage of fighters by age:
Lotsa luck Hendo
Archer: HOLY SHIT! Burt Reynolds!
Burt: Hey, pay attention and you might learn something.
Archer: I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of my giant, throbbing erection!