Yesterday I watched the two fights I hadn't seen from Inside MMA's "Fight of the Year" list, Lozano-Dent and Misaki-Santiago, and one thing became plainly obvious to me-- these fights were made great because they were 5 rounds. If they had been 3 rounders (and all would have been if they'd been fought in the UFC, Dream, or Strikeforce), they'd be considered little more than mildly interesting 3 round decisions, the type of fight that happens on probably every UFC prelim or undercard and often doesn't even get aired. Throw in Pettis-Henderson, and you see widely considered epic fights where the first two rounds were actually relatively tame, with all the crazy back and forth action coming late in the fight after both fighters had implemented their gameplans.
So as I watched UFC 125 I got to thinking. What would, say, Diaz-Kim (or Brown-Nunes) have been like if it was 5 rounds? Would Diaz have come out like a ton of bricks in round 4 and turned the fight into an "epic" slugfest when Kim was too tired to take him down? Would Kim finally take Diaz down in round 5 only to see Diaz pull off some slick submission? "Fight of the year candidate!" we'd be saying today. Instead, the narrative is "Kim did just enough to pull out the decision."
The fact is, when you're talking about a sport like fighting, the war of attrition is just too huge a factor to be ignored. The inherent goal of a fight is to finish your opponent or get him to submit. I know that time limits and judges are usually there for good reasons, but that doesn't excuse the fact that they can go against the basic notion of fighting. Diaz lost that fight last night, but he definitely wasn't defeated (as he and his brother will certainly remind us).
So I think it's indisputable that MMA fans are missing out on great fights by there not being more 5 rounders. I don't know the exact solution, whether it's making all top contender fights 5 rounds or something more liberal than that. And I understand that more 5 round fights could also mean more Cruz-Jorgensen, Shamrock-Severn, Shields-anybody, but the positives would more than outweigh the negatives in the minds of MMA fans.