The fight game and fighters have grown increasingly technical and strategic over the last 20 years. In the early days of the UFC, for example, going to the ground with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter meant the end. In today’s MMA, every fighter is built like a hybrid machine, complete with a complex toolset that allows him or her many paths to victory—knocking an opponent out, executing a submission, or simply by maintaining dominant control..
It’s for this very reason that statistics are becoming a bigger part of the story of a fight. Routinely, concepts like ‘significant strikes’ or ‘time in control’ are tossed around MMA circles, but understanding that data during a fight is hard when you’re just watching what’s unfolding on the television or computer screen.
The new FightTrax data visualization hopes to change how fans, media and even fighters view UFC fights. With live, in-fight tracking of every punch thrown, every takedown executed and every position change, FightTrax is designed to use data to tell a deeper story about the fight. It can be used as a companion experience to watching the fight live, or as a great way to review past fights to gain greater insight..
The application is currently in beta testing, so there may be changes, but the layout for FightTrax is straightforward. As a fight starts, an Octagon girl introduces the first round and the clock starts. As each punch is attempted and landed it’s shown against full-body images of the fighters, and counters tally the damage being taken by each participant in the bout. FightTrax even breaks down strikes to the head, to the body, and to the legs.
Between the two fighters is an area called Fight DNA. It helpfully provides a graphic to indicate the two fighters’ positions at each moment, from striking distance to ground control to full guard. Below that is a fight timeline. On it, you can see the fight unfold in 5-second segments, with the strikes landed by each fighter animating in as they do so. The time each fighter has control of the other is also indicated graphically.
While there’s never a substitute to watching the fight live, FightTrax provides insight that you don’t always get from the broadcast. It helps show how strikes attempted and time in control—and not just strikes landed—contribute to the overall picture of the contest. In some ways, it provides a tool for visualizing the fight the way the judges sitting cage-side do when evaluating the bout.
The application looks like it will be fun and useful in a number of situations. Certainly, while watching the fight live FightTrax provides additional insight. When attending an event, it will be a great way to keep track of all the action and review each round during the breaks. And after the fight is over, FightTrax lets you replay each fight from the beginning, helping viewers understand and appreciate the peaks and valleys of each bout.
One piece of data missing from the current version is submission attempts. As these can be just as effective in ending a fight as a punch, it would be great to see them on the same timeline. Also, it would be useful to have profile and tendency information for each fighter. We hope these features may be added later. Even without these features, the Beta version of FightTrax provides a revolutionary way to experience UFC fights live and in review.
Real time striking stats and aggregate damage counter
Control meter and timer showing which fighter has the upper hand
Replay option to review completed bouts
In Beta so some features may be missing and performance may be optimized
Submission attempts not currently shown
Not everyone will want to get the inside scoop about fights, but for those who do, FightTrax delivers. The real-time data and visualizations are a revolutionary step forward that avid UFC fans will surely enjoy. While there’s room for improvement, this Beta version of FightTrax provides a great new way to experience, understand, and enjoy UFC action.