Interview with FightMetric creator Rami Genauer
September 30, 2010
MMA Payout had the opportunity to get in touch with Fightmetric creator Rami Genauer. He was gracious enough to answer some questions about his company. Earlier this month, Fightmetric was chosen as the stat provider of choice by the UFC.
1. What is your background?
My educational background is in political science and media studies, and I started out my career as a journalist, covering Congress and politics. I also did some sports writing, which is how I first got interested in sports data. Prior to starting FightMetric, I worked as a corporate strategy consultant. Much of the work that went into creating FightMetric drew from that experience in designing data collection methodologies, performing quantitative analysis, and mining data sets.
2. How did you come up with the concept for FightMetric?
FightMetric started because I was writing articles about MMA and thought it was strange that there were no data to use beyond wins and losses. In writing about other sports (mainly baseball), you find yourself drawn to performance statistics in nearly every article. Because of this, I took it as a challenge to try and conceive of what an MMA statistics system would look like. The goal of the system would not be to merely produce numbers that are anecdotally interesting, but to inject some science into this sport. With the right system, we could create data used to advance the understanding of the sport and create meaningful and powerful metrics.
There was about six months of testing hypotheses, defining methodology, creating a data collection regime, and analyzing the outputs for accuracy and utility before we officially scored our first fight. It started as something fun to try and to satisfy my curiosity, but the reception to it was so great, it has turned into something much larger.
3. When was it first utilized by an MMA show?/When was it first used by the UFC?
We started hearing announcers reference our numbers in early 2008, but UFC 87 was the first time we worked directly with the UFC.
4. Did you approach the UFC or did they approach you?
We have a great working relationship with the UFC. There are some things we come up with on our own that we pitch to them and some things that they will ask us for that we do per their request.
5. Is this a computer program you developed specifically for MMA?
I should clarify that FightMetric is not a computer program; it’s just the name of a company that provides statistics and analysis services. But yes, the system was developed specifically for MMA. As we’ve learned, MMA is a complex and unique sport. Attempts to cut corners by borrowing ideas from other sports have largely failed because of the unique nature of MMA. There’s enough here to keep us busy for a while.
6. Can you tell us the growth of your business? How long has it taken to get to where you are at now as a company?
The company is a little more than three years old. It started as more of a hobby, but it became clear very quickly that this was something people wanted. We’ve grown tremendously during a brief amount of time and are looking forward to innovate in this space for a long time to come.
7. Have fighters/fight camps asked for the data to use in their training?
Yes, there are several camps that utilize the data. They use it to optimize training and supplement scouting of upcoming opponents.
8. How many full-time (part-time) employees do you have?
We are a lean, global operation. We have a few full-time employees, but the vast majority of the people who work for FightMetric do it part-time wherever they live. At this point, I think we have as many people working for us outside the US as we have domestically.
9. Do you see FightMetric being used for fantasy type sports?
Yes, we have already done more than a year of research and development in the fantasy space. FightMetric is a proud member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. We presented at the FSTA conference in June and were awarded the Best Pitch of the show. As anyone who tries to think about it will find, MMA presents a lot of challenges to fantasy gaming. For a variety of reasons, the traditional fantasy game models people play in other sports break down when you try to apply them to MMA. We looked at everything from baseball to bass fishing to find games that worked, but in the end, we’ve had to invent entirely new models to produce a game that plays consistently and is still fun. By utilizing sound game theory, real-life testers, and a whole lot of trial-and-error, we’ve come up with some great solutions.