Out of the blue today came news that the NSAC will be meeting on August 19 to vote on a number of proposed rule changes outlined in this document (.pdf). One of the more note worthy proposals in the document is a provision which would allow certain non-title fights to go for five rounds. The changes are italicized.
2. A championship contest of mixed martial arts or any other mixed martial arts contest or exhibition which the Commission considers to be a special event must [be] not exceed five rounds in duration.
There’s quite a bit of debate going on with this issue. Bloody Elbow and Cagewriter are both in favor of the change. They’re arguing there would be more decisive finishes, and for those bouts that still went the distance, there should at least be a more conclusive winner. Fightlinker on the other hand disagrees. They’re afraid if the commission allows promoters to book five round non-title fights, they would eventually become the norm which could lead to too many rounds like boxing.
Personally, I like the idea if it’s used appropriately. Two fights off the top of my head that should have went five rounds were Liddell-Silva and Franklin-Henderson. It wasn’t a big deal before Chuck and Wanderlei fought because everyone figured one of them would end up knocking the other out. That didn’t happen though. Instead, we got a three round war and both were still standing at the end. It wasn’t a title fight, but given the history between the two it kind of felt like it was, and really, who didn’t want to see two more rounds? Franklin-Henderson was a bit different in the fact that it was just a really close fight. It wasn’t the best fight in the world, but if it had been five rounds, maybe there would have been a more decisive winner thus sparing us from having to see it again in September.
If it’s used only in main events or co-main events on pay-per-views or other major events, I’m all for it. While they may not be title fights, some fights have a little more luster to them than your average undercard bout. This would be a great way to recognize that and give us fans who spend $50 for the pay-per-view a little something more on the shows that don’t have a title defense on the card. Plus, if it passes, the UFC could adopt the rule in the UK. I’m sure they would appreciate it. They’ve never seen a live five round fight that didn’t take place at five or six in the morning.
By the way, the NSAC will also be voting on limited instant replay for incidents where fight ending blows are suspected to be fouls as we saw in the Johnson-Burns and Cro Cop-Al-Turk fights.