How to measure reach in UFC?
Reach is clearly one of the most important physical attributes for a fighter. It’s hard to disagree with Georges St-Pierre when he says that reach matters in fighting.
How does one measure reach? You can use a linear ruler or measuring tape, but this will not give you accurate enough measurement if your subject has long arms and/or big hands. I have seen people take an older picture of their subject with a measuring tape in order to get an accurate measurement, but this would be time-consuming and may still not be precise enough.
The best way to measure reach would be using a laser pointer while taking pictures at the same time:
This way you could also see how much glove size would affect effective reach. Another interesting approach would be to use a ruler and measure it against the fighter’s face even though this will not give you exact reach but at least an approximation.
A more precise measurement could also be made by using computer vision software like OpenCV or perhaps some proprietary software used by UFC and other fighting organizations.
It should not be hard to find out exact measurements for every UFC fight if we assume that everything is standardized (camera angle, distance from the camera to subject, etc.). I haven’t done any studies on how these factors affect measured reach, however, what I know intuitively is that the biggest effect comes from using the wrong lens focal length settings in your camera, so as soon as you take pictures make sure that your setup uses identical lens focal length for each picture (or that the distance between camera and subject is identical) and these will give you much more accurate results.
I have found that most pictures taken by such organizations are cropped, but it should be possible to get full-size pictures from those organizations (with their permission of course).