What is Reach in UFC & How Is It Measured?

You may have noticed UFC fighters have a comparison named reach in their stats, along with their height, weight, and record. You may have seen some UFC fighters’ reach and noticed that it is very long; sometimes, it is longer than their height in inches! We do know that height plays an essential part in a fighter’s success, but did you know another significant element that a lot of fighters take advantage of is their long reach? So what is it, and how is the reach measured by the UFC?

In short, the UFC reach of a fighter is measured by the length of the span from fingertip to fingertip at the time when their arms are stretched out horizontally to the height of the shoulders, parallel to the ground. In other words, the reach is measured the same way as the wingspan measure. Let’s take a detailed look into what means the reach is measured and the types.

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How Is the Reach Measured in the UFC?

Many make the common mistake of thinking a fighter’s reach is equal to the height. However, the reach and their height are not the same, neither are they assessed the same. As mentioned before, reach is the length measuring from the middle finger’s tip on one hand to the other while the arms are extended out. An average human’s height to reach ratio is one to one, but MMA fighters mostly have a longer reach on average. On average, UFC fighters have around 2 to 3 inches long reach, which means their height – reach ratio nears to around 1.05:1 over 1:1. Therefore, a regular UFC fighter that’s 6’0″ (72″) possesses a 74″ reach. The difference in measurement between the height and wingspan is called a fighter’s “ape index.”

Subtracting the height from the reach of a UFC fighter is known as the ape index. Many of the UFC fighters own a higher ape index which is about 2 to 3 inches. For example, in order to find the ape index of Jon Jones, we must take his height in inches, which is 76 inches. Then, we must subtract that from his wingspan or reach, which is 84.4 inches, and the result is Jones’ ape index, which is +8.5. However, not all UFC fighters have positive indexes; some have a lower ape index, which means their height is much longer than their reach.

Having a longer reach in Octagon serves as a great benefit, which is the reason why we see more fighters with an extensive ape index frequently dominate than other opponents with an ape index that’s negative. Let us look at a number of the advantages of having a longer reach.

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Benefits Of Having A Long Reach

Fighters like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones have a very high ape index. Jon Jones with +8.5 and Conor McGregor with +5, which means that their reach is much larger as compared to their height. It is a great advantage, which means that your opponents will have difficulty in knocking you out with their kicks, blows, and punches.

Fighters with a longer reach can put together their assaults better and can set up their cover easily when they can manage to keep the contender at a cautious space where they cannot get to you, and you can reach them easily. Having longer reach means the fighter could probe and check the opponents further without getting uncovered quickly.

In addition, fighters who have a long reach generally have a more potent punch and a higher grip force when making an effort for submission, and it is purely physics; a more extensive “lever” at the conclusion of an attack has a higher swing and more torque, creating a greater impact force.

Players with long reach may sometimes be required to surrender their explosiveness for more power, but a single good punch can knock the lights out of the opponent. For example, let us take a look at what McGregor did when he was at his peak. The Knockouts are not nearly as usual in the lightweight and the featherweight division as McGregor made them.

Eyeing the unique advantages of long reach is simple, but what about grappling? It does help the fighter immensely with the takedown defense. Keeping the opponent in a space means they must get closer to cover the space and take you down, and that gap provides you with an incredibly short-timed advantage to check their movements and steer clear of the takedown; sometimes, the fighter can even knock them out.

Long reach also helps to gain more takedowns by giving the fighter a stronger grip making takedowns pretty easy…

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Which UFC Fighter Has The Longest Reach?

To find the length of a fighter’s reach, we need to examine their ape index. Many UFC fighters who are in the major divisions (both heavyweight and lightweight) are tall, but that does not necessarily indicate they own the longest reach in accordance with their height.

For example, if we take a look at the UFC history for the longest reach which is owned by Dan Christison, who had a reported reach of 85″, and he was only 6’8″ fighter. As a result, Christison’s ape index wasn’t that high, and it was actually not a great use for him.

Contrastingly, Jon Jones, having the longest reach at the moment with 84.5″ and his height is only 6’4″, providing him with an exceptional +8.5 ape index. This is the 2nd highest in the history of UFC ape indexes (only behind Sergey Pavlovich with +9).

Below is a table of the longest reach in the history of UFC:

NumberUFC FighterReachHeightApe index
1.Sergei Pavlovich846.3+9.0
2.Jon Jones84.56.4+8.5
3.Kevin Lee775.9+8.0
4.Dalcha Lungiambula765.8+8.0
5.Uriah Hall79.56.0+7.5
6.Francis Ngannou836.4+7.0
7.Paul Daley765.9+7.0
8.Miguel Torre765.9+7.0
9.Georges St-Pierre765.10+6.0
10.Brock Lesnar816.3+6.0
11.Alexander Volkanovski71.55.6+5.5
12.Tony Ferguson76.55.11+5.5
13.Tyron Woodley745.9+5.0
14.Conor McGregor745.9+5.0

We have covered reach or wingspan and the ape index, but in the UFC, there is also another type of reach: leg reach.

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How Is Leg Reach Determined?

In late 2015, the UFC had started to measure leg reach, and they included it as a stat for their fighters. This is because, as a fighter has a limited range with their punches, they do have limited range with their kicks too.

The leg reach is determined by measuring the distance between the hipbone and the heel, which means that only the fighter’s single leg is measured, and not the span of their legs. This reach appears to be a more accurate measuring reach because it cannot be easily manipulated as the wingspan can. For example, if a fighter wanted to manipulate the long reach, they can quickly bring their shoulders together a bit while being measured and present a shorter wingspan than what they actually have. However, as the real length of the leg is being determined for leg reach, it cannot be easily manipulated.

In conclusion, reach is the length measuring the distance from fingertip to fingertip with the arms stretched out. The leg reach is measured from the hip to the heel. Having a good long reach has its benefits, and on the other hand, being tall doesn’t always provide the advantages of long reach. That’s pretty much all there is to explain about the reach in the UFC.

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