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Performance Evaluation and Favoritism: Evidence from Mixed Martial Arts

Journal of Sports Economics, Forthcoming

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 Last revised: 22 Mar 2017

Paul Gift

Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management

Date Written: February 1, 2014

Abstract

This paper investigates various types of bias and favoritism that may be present in the performance evaluations of state-licensed and state-selected judges for mixed martial arts (MMA) events. Using detailed fighter performance statistics collected from after-the-fact video analysis, I investigate live, round-by-round judging decisions for major MMA events held in Nevada and California from 2001-2012. Findings do not support hypotheses that judges favor titleholders or disfavor fighters given point deductions, but do support bias towards larger betting favorites, those with insurmountable leads, and the fighter who won the previous round. Findings provide non-experimental support for possible biases in a relatively opaque decision environment involving substantial complexity. The results also have strategic implications for MMA fighters and coaches as well as certified judge trainers the athletic commissions that license and oversee the judges.

Keywords: Favoritism, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Performance Evaluation, Productivity Analysis, Bias, Judging

JEL Classification: D03, J44, L83, M59

Suggested Citation

Gift, Paul, Performance Evaluation and Favoritism: Evidence from Mixed Martial Arts (February 1, 2014). Journal of Sports Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2395994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2395994

Paul Gift (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management ( email )

6100 Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045
United States

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