Next Level

TRADITION-MINDED FANS often complain that statistics destroy the romance of competition. But saying analytics is bad for sports is like saying physics is bad for the solar system. Sure, advanced metrics can be boring or confusing when deployed ineptly. But they often reveal patterns we wouldn't see without their help. This is true even in the last sport I thought would ever submit to the sabermetric revolution: MMA.

"There are incredible stories in MMA," says Rami Genauer, founder of FightMetric, a data-crunching outfit that has been analyzing fights since 2007 and is now the UFC's official provider of stats. "But to tell these stories, we'd fall back on the same vague generalizations. It was a great comeback? How great? Historically great? There was no excuse for meaningful numbers not to exist."