There have been a noticeable increase in knockouts in the UFC’s smaller Octagon. Since the pandemic, most of the cards have utilized the smaller Octagon. Evidence as well as common sense suggests that the smaller cage forces fighters to engage more frequently. The Smaller Octagon has a Diameter of 7.62m and an Area of 48.12m. The end result is 20% smaller diameter with a 44% smaller area.
3 Knockouts in the first 3 fights
For the first time in UFC history, UFC Fightnight: Saskatoon had the first 3 fights end in under 1 minute. Christian Aguilera TKO’d Antohny Ivy via punches in 59 seconds. Tyson Nam KO’d (Punch) Zarrukh Adashev in 32 seconds. Julia Avila TKO’d out Gina Mazany in 22 seconds via punches. They were amazing performances, and hats off to all of the fighters involved. This is not in any way meant to take away from their performances. However, it is hard to argue with the data regarding the size of the octagon and the frequency of finishes.
Size and Strategy
A smaller octagon will change the strategies employed by the fighter. There steps required to get an opponent against the fence is reduced substantially. Theoretically, a smaller arena would favor grapplers for this reason. Subsequently, long bouts featuring rounds of clinchwork could plague UFC cards.
Power punchers also benefit from the reduced arena as there is less room to evade their attack. Conversely, footwork oriented fighters like Dominic Cruz and Lyoto Machida perhaps face a significant disadvantage. Less space to maneuver would mean less space to utilize their strengths.
The decrease in surface area may not significantly affect the flyweights of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Yet, the smaller area would certainly affect larger fighters. Heavyweights, who face the greatest chance of eating a knock out blow, are now confined to a proportionately smaller cage. Imagine trying to formulate a game plan against Francis Ngannou, now reduce the size of the Octagon.
Fan Friendly Fights
It is hard to imagine the UFC did not take the entertainment value of the smaller Octagon into consideration. As the only major sport currently on television during the pandemic, it would benefit the UFC to produce exciting fights with spectacular conclusions. And to be fair, knock outs are awesome. The visceral feeling every person experiences when witnessing a knockout is powerful, and meaningful. When fans are inevitably able to return to watching UFC fights live, it will be interesting to see if a place remains for the smaller Octagon.