Unless you really love sports or really love deep, quantitative statistics (or both), the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference likely means nothing to you. However, if you fall within some circle of that Venn diagram, you know there's no grander stage for sports nerds. After all, this is the event that sportswriter Bill Simmons lovingly dubbed “Dorkapalooza.”
Founded and run by Houston Rockets' GM Daryl Morey and the Kraft Sports Group's Jessica Gelman, the conference presents research, papers, technology and discussion covering a wide range of statistical and analytic sports issues. Following FightMetric founder Rami Genaeur's 2012 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference presentation on advanced stats in MMA, the conference braintrust saw fit to do a full panel discussion for 2013 on the future of these metrics in MMA.
As an all-purpose SSAC fan and devout sports egghead, I was both flattered and honored to be selected for SSAC 2013's “Breaking Down the Fight: MMA Analytics” panel, alongside UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, aforementioned FightMetric boss Rami Genauer, SB Nation's Luke Thomas and moderator Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated.
The panel discussed the rudimentary nature of statistics in MMA presently and the few solid applications used for the existing data, such as judging accountability. The group also investigates potential improvements for the metrics being used, how technology like motion tracking could revolutionize data for MMA and other combat sports, how these numbers could impact fighter gameplanning and a variety of other topics.
Watch the video, investigate the numbers, question your thoughts about fighting. However, I can't guarantee you'll like it. Some folks thought we weren't ironic enough.