If you haven't seen my posts, I've been the one generating the Whole-History ratings for MMA, you can find the previous posts here; Previous Posts and the current ratings here; MMA Ratings
During the process of this, I've collected data on over 300,000 fights and since I had a few minutes to spare, I thought I'd have a look at the win rates for fighters moving up or down weight classes.
To automate this, I've considered a 'move in weight class' any time someone fights in a different weight class than their two previous fights, for example, Max Holloway fought at 155lbs recently after his last 2 fights were at 145lbs, so that is counted as a weight class change. When he fights at 145lbs again, that will not count because he only fought once at 155lbs, but the fight before that was at 145lbs.
I've excluded draws and no-contests entirely, since they aren't a huge factor and it's tricky to know how to count them anyway.
Here's what I've discovered, I've marked rows in bold where the change has produced >=50% wins;
New Weight Class
New Weight Class
What it would seem like from initially looking at this;
Moving down a weight class is only really beneficial when you're very small, where the difference in size is more obvious.
Moving down a weight class isn't likely to be (initially) very beneficial and you're no more likely to win than staying where you are.
Moving up a weight class gives you more of an advantage at the heavier weights, where size differences are less noticeable.
Moving up a weight class, unless you're very light in weight, is probably going to give you an advantage, either due to hydration level or due to a speed advantage.
Obviously there's a lot more going into each fight than the weight class change, but I thought it was at least an interesting data set to work out!
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