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Dana White Announces All UFC Main Events Will Be Five Rounds

Jon Fitch would have appreciated an additional two rounds in his UFC 127 bout with B.J. Penn.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Jon Fitch would have appreciated an additional two rounds in his UFC 127 bout with B.J. Penn. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
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There's a celebration going on in the Land of Fagan today. Both Kevin Iole and Brett Okamoto report via Twitter that UFC President Dana White announced that, going forward, all UFC main events will be scheduled for five rounds, regardless of whether a title is at stake. The policy will start following the Rashad Evans/Phil Davis main event at UFC 133, as bout agreements for that fight have already been signed.

There's been no word on whether this applies only PPV/numbered events, or if free TV shows will be headlined by five-rounders as well. [See below.]

I first championed this idea way back in February of 2009 in response to a piece over at Fightlinker. I laid out my reasons for supporting a push for more five-round fights in August of that year:

  • More decisive finishes - From my previous post on the topic, I showed that - in a limited sample size - five round title fights are finished 77% of the time as compared to the MMA average of 67% for three round affairs. More fights avoiding the mysterious hands of the judges the better.
  • Less importance per round - In a three round fight, each round makes up 33% of a judge's score card. A round in a five round bout is only worth 20%. For example, in the Caol Uno/Spencer Fisher fight at UFC 99, if you score the first two rounds (which were very close) to Fisher, Uno has to win a dominant 10-8 third just for a draw. With two additional rounds, Uno would have ample time to make up lost ground (if not finish his opponent).
  • More quality at the top of the cards - I'm an extremist. The more five-round fights, the better. I understand that's a minority position, and unlikely to come to fruition in the event that NSAC opens the five-round door. That said, if the UFC utilizes the five round fight for all main and co-main events, that's potentially 20 additional minutes of high-level MMA. Who can argue with that?

The most prevalent argument I've heard against mandatory five-round fights atop of shows centered around the fear that more five-round fights would lead to fewer prelims fights being aired. While I've always found that a backward view (I would much rather see ten minutes of, say, Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida than a prelim fight between Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado), the point is moot given the UFC's recent practice of broadcasting their entire prelim lineup on Facebook (and now Youtube) and Spike TV.

[UPDATE] MMA Weekly brings some quotes from Dana White:

"What I don't want to do to guys, fights that we've already made and they signed the bout agreement, you're mentally training for a 3 round fight. ‘Oh now it's 5 rounds', you can't do that to guys," White stated.

White was specific in stating all future bout agreements for main event non-title fights would be five round affairs.

"From this day forward as we speak right here, right now today, every fight that is a main event that is not a title fight will be a five round fight," said White. "For Spike and everything else."