MMA Analysis: Does Stance Really Matter?

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In traditional striking arts (ex. boxing), a fighter’s stance is an important factor in predicting winners. Southpaws have a statistical advantage over orthodox fighters because lefties have a lot more experience fighting righties than vice-versa.

But how much does stance really matter in MMA? We break down the numbers.

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We looked at 3,201 fights in the Fight Metric database where both fighters’ stance was listed.

Fight Metric adds a third stance for us to consider: the “switch stance”, or fighters that can switch between orthodox and southpaw (a’la Jones or Machida).

The table to the right shows the % of time that our 3 types of fighters win when they go head to head.

In the classic orthodox vs southpaw match up, lefties win 55% of the time. That’s significant.

But fighters who can switch stance trump all. They beat righties 67% and lefties 66% of the time. That’s HUGE.

A word of caution: before we all go out and start practicing our ambidexterity, remember that there aren’t that many fighters listed as switch stance in the Fight Metric database, and of the ones that are, there are some certified killers in the group (Jones/Machida), so that number is probably a little high.

But I think the conclusion is clear:

The less common the stance, the higher the statistical probability that the fighter wins. Stance is a useful consideration when predicting fights, even in MMA.

Mike the Geek

Related post: Does Reach Advantage Matter in MMA?

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Geek note: Fight Metric lists two additional stances: “open” and “sideways”, but we’ve ignored these because there aren’t enough fighters using them for a thorough analysis.

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