Estelami mines MMA data to pinpoint peak performance

Hooman Estelami discusses his new book, Predictors of Victory and Injury in Mixed Martial Arts Combat: A Scientific Study of Professional Fight Records.

Hooman Estelami discusses his new book, Predictors of Victory and Injury in Mixed Martial Arts Combat: A Scientific Study of Professional Fight Records.

By Claire Curry

Most people seek out mixed martial arts for the spectacular victories and—quite literally—crushing defeats. Fordham marketing professor Hooman Estelami was drawn in by its statistics.

Gathering data on more than 1,100 fights held over a seven-year period, Estelami mined a wide range of stats for factors that influenced success in the cage.

The lucky number? Twenty-two.

Estelami determined that MMA fighters—who engage in a full-contact combat sport that blends techniques from Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai fighting, boxing and other traditions—reach peak performance at age 22.

As they age, they become less likely to win and more likely to get hurt: Fighters in their 30s have a 50-percent higher chance of injury. His other findings, published in the book Predictors of Victory and Injury in Mixed Martial Arts Combat: A Scientific Study of Professional Fight Records (Bahar Books, 2014) explore the effects of hometown advantage, height, weight, and arm reach—as for a strike against an opponent.

“The massive amount of accumulated data enables us to apply statistical methods of analysis to scientifically establish the drivers of victory and defeat inside the cage,” Estelami said.

“The findings of this study will aid professionals in the mixed martial arts to better understand the sport, its risks and its potentials.”

Estelami’s research is an example of the many Fordham faculty projects that are accomplished each year with student support: A co-author on the paper that lead to the book is Francis Dehel, GSB ’13, who was privileged to work with him through the Father William E. Boyle Society, an honor organization at the Gabelli School of Business.

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