Christopher Kirk

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Physiological changes brought about by a person’s aging process are known to negatively affect elite sports performance, but this may be delayed by skill mastery brought about by continued training.  The intersection of these two separate processes causes a potential ‘peak performance window’ in many sports.  Within MMA it has been shown that older competitors are more likely to lose individual bouts, especially due to strikes, and when they win it is most likely to be due to a decision.  It has not been determined whether age has a long-term effect on success in MMA.  This study divided the top 100 competitors in each MMA weight division into 5 ranking groups (RG) and used Bayesian ANOVA (BF10), 95% credible interval plots and Bayesian Kendall’s Tau (BF10) to determine if competitor rankings are affected by their age, and if each division displays a different age profile.  The results found that whilst there is a general pattern of older participants being ranked higher, middleweight was the only division where this was statistically relevant.  It was found, however, that the heavier the mass limit of the division, the older the participants are across each RG.  These results suggest that skill mastery may be of more short-term importance to successful performance in MMA than physiological ability, particularly in the heavier divisions, but physiological decrements effect lighter competitors earlier in their chronological age.  This is potentially due to differing performance requirements between the different divisions.


MMA; aging; peak performance; combat sports; competitive ranking

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