My conclusions: We don't NEED more 5 rounders. But I think it would be beneficial to make main events and top contender fights 5 rounds.
I've been seeing a lot of calls for more 5 round fights, as well as some opposition. Some suggestions include:
1) All fights should be 5
2) All title and top contender (i.e. who gets the next title shot) fights
3) All main events
4) All main and co-main events
5) All fights featuring an ex-champion
Pro arguments include:
1) Many 3 round fights would be better / more "epic" fights in MMA (e.g. boxing)
2) Title fights should be distinctly different from other fights, hence 5 rd vs 3.
Con arguments include:
1) For every 3 rounder that gets better with 5, many would be worse. (e.g. Starnes vs Quarry)
- a) because the fight was boring within the 3 rounds already
- b) because the fighters will get tired and sloppy
2) Less fights per card or PPV broadcast
3) Using "Title fight" as the division between 5 and 3 round fights is arbitrary
1) 5 round fights do have the potential to be more epic/memorable. An awesome fight over 5 rounds has more tension than a 3 rounder. That said, there are plenty of great memorable fights over 3 rounds.
2) ALL 5 round fights on a card means a lot less fights overall across the year. I think you want no more than 2 per event. Hence, limit this to the most meaningful fights - title fight, title shot decider, and MAYBE main event when there is no title fight or title shot decider. I think UFC fighters headlining should prove they deserve the headline slot by performing in a 5 rounder. I think if you're wanting to fight for the title, you should prove you can handle a 5 rounder in the title shot decider before you get to fight 5 rds for the title.
3) If it's only the better fighters doing 5 rounders, you're more likely to get an entertaining 5 rounder. Sure, there will be some long stinkers but that's the risk you take.
4) We'll get to see more screen time for the top fighters - generally these are also the most popular. That's great for the fans and the UFC. And if each card, on average, gains ONE 5 round fight, the whole show extends by around 12 minutes, max. You might lose the "extra prelims" sometimes shown. Personally I'd be fine with the whole show being a little longer. More value for the customer (on PPV, which is most of the big cards). For free to air cards with a set timeslot, you can have a slight tape delay during the 1st and 2nd fights to edit out the wait times (between rounds and cut at least part of the walk-in), so that the show fits the time slot and the later matches are truly live.
5) With a few more long fights and therefore less fights per card, you may have to have an extra show or three per year. Who would complain about that? And with more "important" fights around (5 rounders) to headline these cards, it all works well together.