Can The Arm Bar Ever Be A Dominant Force Again?

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If you looked at our statistics for the Arm Bar as a whole you would most likely conclude that it’s a submission that is still a serious force in top level MMA competition. In terms of where it ranks it’s 3rd overall with a 16.9% share of all submissions ever achieved in the UFC, only narrowly behind the Guillotine Choke at 18.3%. In terms of overall numbers it’s also impressive on the surface with more than 100 examples of the Arm Bar being successfully applied in the UFC, that’s more than four times the number of Kimura’s that we have seen in the same time.

However, once you start looking at the trend over the last 10 years things don’t look quite so good and 2014 is proving to be one of the worst year’s ever for the Arm Bar technique. Here’s the graph showing the percentage of fights finished by Arm Bar through the entire history of the UFC

In 2014 so far there have been more than 400 fights and only 4 submissions by Arm Bar, that’s just 1% of all fights that been finished via an Arm Bar this year. By comparison the Rear Naked Choke has been seen 32 times so far in 2014, that’s a finishing rate that’s 8 times greater than the Arm Bar.

At this point there’s enough data and enough of a trend to suggest this is more than just a blip. It seems highly unlikely that the Arm Bar will return to the dominant force than it used to be in top level MMA. So the question is, why?

There is a temptation to just write this off as just being a case of progressive education – as everyone becomes more and more effective at and defending escaping submissions the success rate naturally falls off.

Total Submission Count

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Submissions Per Fight Ratio

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Current Trend

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