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Midnight Mania! UFC is collecting data from glove sensors that could be ‘highly controversial’

MMA: UFC 225-Whittaker vs Romero Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

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The UFC has been collecting data from new in-glove sensors for 4 events since UFC 219- but it’s not ready to release the data to fighters or fans just yet. From

“We want to be able to make it so everybody understands,” UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner said. “It’s going to take time. But it’s going to be big for the sport.”

The sensors help improve the accuracy of the data collected on fights. While the program was billed as covering everything from a fighter’s emotion to their power and resilience, so far the sensors have improved accuracy for three metrics: punch detection, by 6 percent, punch type application by 17%, and whether a punch landed or missed by 7 percent.

The NSAC approved the program at the end of last year as a way to improve fighter safety. Eventually, the UFC also plans to incorporate the data into the live broadcasts, aggregated via an “AI agent” and viewable directly on fans’ smartphones. However, the program is not ready just yet. NSAC commission chair Anthony Marnell wants to make sure the data is presented with care.

“It’s kind of like baseball,” Marnell said. “They measure the ball going out … and the velocity, and it’s interesting if the outfielder runs a perfect route. But it doesn’t change the score of the game. Whereas this information, I think would be highly controversial if it’s represented incorrectly.”

In other words, it could affect how fans view the final scores of bouts, and will present a challenge in MMA where the judging is often subjective, and what is currently rewarded isn’t always what is effective. UFC representative Amber Bowen said that the sensors, which will be in use at UFC 226, aren’t really the holdup in getting the data to fighters, who naturally have already asked for it.

“We are more than willing to share with them, but right now it’s a matter of getting the algorithm set so we’re obtaining accurate data,” she said.

Accurate data about just how hard UFC 226 fighters are really punching would be welcome, especially for these two record-breaking heavyweights.


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