In the days leading up to his UFC 171 bout against Tyron Woodley, Carlos Condit offered the following, "In my opinion, I think title eliminator fight should be five-rounders. If you're going to be fighting for the title, I think that you should prove that you have the ability to fight and win in a five-round fight."
With Condit's comments hanging out there, we decided to take the subject to the Bloody Elbow staff:
Zane Simon: Since the idea of a No. 1 contender fight in the UFC is about as far from an actual guarantee as the UFC ever wants to make, I think the idea is a bit of a pipe dream. In a perfect world, yes. Fights between top 10-15 opponents should always be five rounds. These are supposed to be the best fighters in the sport, we should be giving them the most time to work. But that would also mean that 13 fight cards could potentially have three five round decisions on them. Which would be... not conducive to the viewing experience. And if they only made it for no. 1 contenders, it would just be another "guarantee" that they'd have to sheepishly back down from if the fight didn't go exactly the way they wanted it to. Dana White makes those guarantees all the time, but because he's about as credible as a company that sells land on the moon, there's a shared understanding that his word is hardly final. But if they add a structured, decisive path that is meant to say "This fighter is the no. 1 contender," it will just rip away that extra shred of public credibility when they backpedal. That's essentially one of the problems Bellator has run into as they've gone off the tournament format, while still claiming themselves as a tournament first organization. Sooner or later you can't have it both ways.
Tim Burke: I don't think the idea is feasible. It'd be nice to make all number-one contender bouts the main event of smaller shows (FX, Fox) so they'd be five. But the reality of injuries involves putting a lot of fights from the same division on cards, like 171 was set up. Do I want to see Carlos Condit in five round fights all the time? Of course. But as fans, I think we're getting greedy if we keep pushing for more and more and more. We asked for five-round main events for years, and now that we have them, we're complaining that they're wasted on fights like Kim vs. Hathaway. It's a catch 22 for the UFC.
Nate Wilcox: Tim's right about the feasibility issues but there's also the little matter of the UFC's absolute unwillingness to officially designate what is and what isn't a #1 contender fight.
Stephanie Daniels: People only call for 5 round Number 1 contender fights when there's a kickass fight that's close. Any other time, the line on that discussion is pretty much a silent one. We're very much "in the moment" fans and typically want 5 rounders when it suits the moment.
The only way I want 5 round contender fights is by making them the main events, but as already mentioned, what exactly is a contender fight in the eyes of Dana and the gang? With a win tomorrow night, Condit gets a title shot, but what if it's a 3 round grinder with Woodley? What if Lombard spectacularly destroys Shields? Then what? It's not as if the UFC has a steady track record of honoring the title shots they say will happen.
Tim Burke: Dana actually said yesterday that neither Condit nor Woodley were guaranteed a title shot with a win, so it looks like they're just going to go with the best of the performances. Or someone else. Or a rematch. Or GSP comes back. Or B.J. Penn goes to Zippy's for a week straight to get back up to 170 and fights the main event winner.
Eriksson Lau: I just want to see fights in the upper-tier, the ones with significant divisional relevance to be 5 round fights. Comparisons to boxing aren't the best, but you'll see on some cards there will be multiple 12, 10 and 8 three minute round fights. I have no issue with main events like Stun Gun and Hathaway, but I absolutely agree with what Condit said the other day. "you should have to go in there and perform in a five-round fight, and show that you have the ability [before going into a title fight]." However, I'd take it a step further and make something like 'anytime a fighter is top 5 in the rankings, that fighter should be in a 5 round fight, and/or anytime two top 10 fighters are fighting.' This could cause some confusion if a fighter drops out of the top 10 or 5 when the fight happens, but it would be a good guideline. Woodley/Condit, Davis/Rumble, Ellenberger/Saffiedine, JDS/Miocic, Dillashaw/Mizugaki and any others, these should all be 5 rounders. I like main events getting 5 round treatment, cause I think more rounds is better, but it's absurd to have Hathaway/Kim or Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva as a 5 rounder, when all the fights I listen above will most likely be 3 rounders.
Trent Reinsmith: It's a tough call. Like Zane said, how many times has a guaranteed title contender been forgotten about in the past. If the UFC makes these fighters prepare for a five rounder, and then tries to push the winner out of the title fight, then what? Or what if the title fight calls for an immediate rematch? The UFC can't tell me that if/ when Jon Jones or Ronda Rousey loses they won't get an immediate rematch. How do you feel if you were the fighter that just fought and won a five round fight, just to be pushed to the side?
On the other hand, a five round eliminator with no one pound allowance at weigh-ins would be a good set up for a title fight, and like Carlos Condit said, it would show the UFC if the winner of that fight had what it takes to perform in a title fight.
Ultimately, I think there are too many moving parts in the UFC to make this work as stated by Condit. It would tie the UFC's hands to make guarantees that they have shown they are not willing to make.
I don't think the thought should be pushed to the side, Eriksson may be on to something with his idea of fights between top five opponents being five rounds. That gives the UFC some wiggle room as to what is and isn't a true title eliminator, and it puts some real meaning behind the rankings.
If it does happen in any form, I would hope that there would be some kind of pay / bonus bump for those fighters that are going to fight five rounds.
Paul Gift: I like the idea of eliminating the one pound allowance for #1 contender bouts. Only problem is it would be a cold day in hell before poor Lineker could then get a title shot...