Dana White announced last week that all UFC main-events will be five rounds going forward. I have seen mixed reaction on the move in the MMA community. Yet in my opinion, I don’t think there is anything wrong with more fighting.
The move is certainly a big game changer. Fighters will now have to come into to non-title main-event fights with a bigger emphasis on cardio. Fighters who are known to strike early and fast will now have to pace themselves for a potential grueling two additional rounds. Fans will also get more bang for their buck with the addition of more rounds to their headliners. It seems good to me.
[adinserter block=”1″]This isn’t to say that there aren’t drawbacks with the change. With the addition of two more rounds, we probably will see less classic non-title headlining fights as guys will be more cautious with their pace. The intrigue of seeing how a new challenger will fair in a five-round title fight is gone. The “championship rounds” will now be replaced by the “main-event rounds.” Plus, every once in a while you will get stuck with a main-event you hardly cared about seeing with three rounds (Jackson vs. Hamill) now prolonged with more fight time.
It should also be noted that not every main-event you see on future UFC fight cards will be five rounds. Dana White clarified over the weekend that if two guys sign a fight agreement for three rounds and are bumped up to the main-event due to a headliner being scrapped (UFC 130, Rampage-Hamill), that fight would still remain a three-round fight whether it is the main-event or not.
Yet I look back at the history of the UFC and wonder how things would have been different with classic non-title headlining fights if they would have had two more rounds. There have been plenty of fights that went to decision that looked like they were one round away from ending. Unfortunately a lot of those fights saw fighters on the losing end of the score cards for two rounds turn things around in the third round which wound up being too little too late. Even worse is watching the other guy who just got bloodied and battered have his hand lifted signaling a win, while the other fighter looks ready to go for more rounds.
Quite frankly, I doubt a lot of the three round classic main-events would have been as good if the two fighters knew they had to fight a five-rounder, but for three rounds these guys fought a war. With two additional rounds history would have likely been different all the way around, which won’t be an issue going forward. So today I look back in no particular order at fifteen UFC main-event fights (non-title) that could have used two more rounds.
Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben: UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben – Now let me preface this by saying that Chris Leben tested positive for steroids after the fight so regardless of extra rounds the fight would have resulted in a Bisping win. At the end of round three Leben dropped his hands and invited Bisping to take a shot, he did, and some say it may have cost Leben the fight. Bisping took a controversial decision that probably would have been justified with another solid round or two.
Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera – UFC 105: Couture vs. Vera – How Brandon Vera lost this fight is one of the biggest UFC mysteries to me. Vera appeared to be landing more damaging strikes throughout the fight which makes me think that Couture wouldn’t have survived another two rounds. Of course Couture has always been known for his conditioning so who knows what would have happened, but these guys definitely deserved two more rounds.
Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann – UFC Live: Sanchez vs Kampmann – This was a great back and forth fight that saw both guys slugging it out as the third round ended. The result was a questionable UFC decision that could have been much different if the fight continued.
Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida – The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale – Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida are probably going to be two guys most impacted by the move since both are regular Spike TV headliners. Who wouldn’t want to see two more rounds in this one?
Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson – UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans – One of the UFC’s biggest grudge matches turned into a rather boring fight for two and a half rounds. Yet after being dominated for two rounds, Rampage came alive and had Evans in big trouble in the third round. Jackson appeared to get stronger as the round ended, throwing punches at the close of the round. Additionally with all of the hype for the grudge match, it just felt kind of flat going with only three rounds. I wanted more!
BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch – UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch – I am in the minority of fans who really liked this fight. Penn started out hot and faded as the third round came to a close. The fight ended in a draw which very likely wouldn’t have happened with two more rounds. I hope these guys get a five-round rematch in the near future.
Rampage Jackson vs. Lyoto Machida – UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida – Another questionable decision that could have been avoided with two more rounds. Machida easily won the third round in the fight, although according to the judges he lost the first two. Lyoto Machida looked fresh and ready for more as the third round ended and I believe he would have either bested Jackson in a decision or put him away with more time.
Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson – UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson – Henderson squeezed out a decision here, but the fight was going Franklin’s way when the third round ended. The fight ended with a lot of excitement and would have likely continued into the “championship rounds.”
Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar – The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale – If I was putting this list in order this one would probably be number one. Three violent rounds yet the boys looked like they were ready to go for more. History may have been a lot different with two more rounds.
Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira – This was a really great fight that is probably underrated among casual MMA fans. Nogueira won the decision but Randy kept coming as the round ended. The fans were on their feet as the third round came to a close and were ready for two more.
Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz 2 – UFC 106: Ortiz vs. Griffin 2 – The rematch was supposed to settle everything and well, it sort of did. Ortiz came out strong in the first two rounds and in my opinion, won them both. Yet something happened in round three and he just gassed out and did nothing as Griffin picked him apart. Griffin got a questionable split decision here, but with another two rounds all questions would have been answered.
Rampage Jackson vs. Keith Jardine – UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine – Yet another highly underrated fight that could have used two more rounds. Jackson finished strong after surviving an onslaught by Jardine in the second round. Jackson looked like he was going to put him away in the third with a terrific combination of strikes but couldn’t deliver the magic moment. I think we were about one minute away from seeing a knockout if this fight would have had a fourth round.
[adinserter block=”1″]Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva – UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva – This was a really bizarre fight. Evans dominated the majority of the fight but got rocked in the third. In yet another one of the biggest UFC mysteries in history with Evans dazed, Silva just started mocking Evans and refused to move in for the kill. Quite frankly Silva’s stupidity has probably cost him millions in a headlining fight, but nonetheless another round would have likely seen Silva finish Evans who was lucky to be standing as the fight ended.
Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan UFC Fight Night Six – I can’t imagine anyone arguing for an extra two rounds in this battle. This was a great back and forth fight that would have kept fans on their feet with two more rounds.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin UFC 99: The Comeback – I certainly won’t argue that the wrong guy won, but this fight was turning around as the bell came to a close. I titled my post-fight report, “A finish for the ages“ because it was just that good. The fight ended with Silva obliterating Franklin with a series of elbows to the face, trapping Franklin up against the cage as the bell sounded. I don’t know if he could have continued the assault in the fourth round but I would have loved to see him try.
Honorable mention – Three round non-main event UFC fights that could have used two more rounds…
Chuck Liddell vs. W. Silva UFC 79
Matt Hamill vs. Michael Bisping UFC 75
Clay Guida vs. Tyson Griffin UFC 72
Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping UFC 110
Sean Sherk vs. Evan Dunham UFC 119
Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz UFC 59
Jake Shields vs. Martin Kampmann UFC 121
Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn UFC 58
Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz UFC 73
I am sure there are more but these are the fights that come off the top of my head. Think I missed one? Let me know and leave a comment.
Big thanks to Brett Clendaniel of Wrestlechat.net for helping with the lists.
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