This week, Kurt Wuckert Jr. hosted Christian Giang, CTO and co-founder of Combat IQ. This is an exciting company focused on big data, machine learning, and using it to shake up the fight game.
Introducing Christian Giang, Ph.D. and Combat IQ
Giang introduced himself as the founder of a startup, Combat IQ, that is in the sports analytics industry. He says he only got into Bitcoin this year after being accepted into the Satoshi Block Dojo. Through this, they found a nice Bitcoin use case for their business.
Delving into Combat IQ, Giang says he has been practicing martial arts since childhood. He went to university and dropped off a little bit, but he always kept practicing. After getting in touch with this co-founder, he decided to join the Combat IQ project.
Fight science—What is it, and how does it work?
Wuckert notes that while team sports are visible on the field, the team involved in fighting sports is typically less visible and plays their role in the camp. He does note a trend towards more data-driven approaches to building a team, and he asks Giang what that looks like in reality.
Giang says there’s a reason why martial arts hasn’t been primarily driven by data science yet. One is that there are so many different situations, styles, etc. However, with technological advances in the last couple of years, it has become possible to trace every move someone makes in a fight, determine what micromovements a fighter makes before attacking, etc.
What is the core of Combat IQ’s business, and how does blockchain play a role?
Giang says the ultimate goal is to become the leading data provider for combat sports. He wants to level the sport up so that quality data is available like it already is in baseball, basketball, etc. They will then provide this data to those who can use it—athletes and coaches, promotions, sportsbooks, oddsmakers, etc.
As for the blockchain, right now, Combat IQ is using it to publish its predictions before UFC fights. By publicly time-stamping the predictions, they can show that they didn’t manipulate them after the fact.
Wuckert recalls how old-school things were when he started and imagines how an outfit like Combat IQ could change things. He reckons that one of the data-focused camps or schools would be very interested in this product, but he wonders if they might want exclusivity. Giang says that time will tell who the main customers will be and what they want, but the business model won’t be fundamentally different from existing ones serving other sports.
How could big data and analytics change the fight game?
Giang also outlines another way big data could shake up the fight game. In many cases, fans have to accept the decisions of judges, even when they sense they are unfair. Collecting data could reveal patterns such as biases and shed new light on how decisions are made.
Wuckert wonders whether there might be potential for big data analytics to take some of the excitement out of fights. He has noticed that UFC fights are already becoming more programmatic, and he notes that any fighter today would “destroy” a fighter from ten years ago. Giang sees the point, noting that technology has changed soccer dramatically, but there’s ultimately no stopping the march towards progress, and there are always two sides to these things.
Is Combat IQ live now? What’s the roadmap?
The company came out of the Satoshi Block Dojo incubator in July 2022. They have a minimum viable product allowing them to publish UFC predictions on the blockchain and a video explaining how everything works.
The technology has advanced and is ready to be tested with various gyms and promotions. They are setting up pilot tests right now, and by the beginning of next year, they’ll have something they can showcase and potentially bring to market.
Is there a correlation between Combat IQ stats and betting on fights?
In response to this question, Giang says that one business pillar is providing this data to sportsbooks.
Currently, the predictions Combat IQ publishes are based on publicly available data. They have already reached between 60-70% accuracy, which is roughly average for oddsmakers. Giang expects that the accuracy will increase dramatically when they begin collecting data privately.
A second business opportunity is to cater to professional bettors and punters. Giang knows there’s a market here, and the data these pro sports bettors are looking for doesn’t exist to the extent Combat IQ intends to collect it.
Another exciting opportunity is taking the data, combining it with AI, and watching simulated superfights such as Ali vs. Tyson. This ties in with elements of the emerging metaverse.
Is this being built on Bitcoin SV?
Giang confirms that Combat IQ is building on BSV.
As he has said, they’re publishing predictions on the blockchain right now to have public accountability and integrity of the data. The next step is to move to in-fight predictions. In time, as Web 3.0 gains traction, they’d like to conduct the actual computations used to make the predictions on the blockchain.
What is the nature of the data itself? At this point, it’s an OP_RETURN, Giang confirms. He also says they are building their core team, including six developers. This is what will power the company moving forward.
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