Ok here is some additional analysis of mma fights. Judging from data from Pride FC fights from 1997 – 2006, it looks like KO’s have increased over time, but these KO victories haven’t come at the expense of submissions, ignoring the first couple of years as outliers. Submission wins seem to be holding steady at almost 30% of all victories. “Soft” seems slightly ahead of “hard”. However, that one statistic doesn’t really tell the whole story. What about the decisions and TKO’s? If we look at KO+TKO’s vs. submissions, “hard” has more wins.
Decisions are trickier and have been the prevalent method of victory. Some of the split decisions have been so close I would consider both fighters to either have “neutralized” the other, or just had a horribly boring, unaggressive match. That doesn’t really look at whether they won by a “soft” or “hard” style. For example even in unanimous decisions, how did Fedor beat Nog? What about Rampage vs. Henderson in UFC 75? I haven’t seen enough of these bouts to really have much of a subjective opinion but I don’t know how to classify those matches. Bisping vs. Hamill was ridiculous. It should’ve been unanimous for Hamill and I’d say that was by both “hard” (better hits) and “soft” (better wrestling) superiority. I guess that’s true of the other two fights I mentioned as well.
I also haven’t looked at any UFC data yet or other factors such as round number – I’d guess more KO’s happen early and submissions later but no idea really. I might come back to that later. If nothing else, might be interesting for fantasy mma betting.