Last week, the UFC announced that five-round fights would now happen for all main events. Yahoo! Sports' own Dave Meltzer wrote an excellent breakdown of why five-round title fights are a good thing. He discussed how many close, non-title main events have taken place and that five-round bouts will make the winner more obvious.
But there are downsides to this decision. Namely:
Not every fighter is ready for a five-rounder. The UFC's Ultimate Fight Night, UFC on Versus and "The Ultimate Fighter" finale events give the UFC a chance to promote up-and-coming fighters. The main events are often populated by fighters who will eventually be near a title shot, but they need time to grow. Pushing them into five-rounders too early could hurt their development.
A main-event injury could wreak more havoc on the cards than we've seen. Consider what happened with UFC 131. Just weeks before the fights, Brock Lesnar had to pull out of the main event, and Shane Carwin stepped in. If Carwin had to switch up for a five-round fight on short notice, then he (or any fighter) might not be able to prepare for a five-rounder in time. The fighters would be in a position to either go into a bout not as prepared as their opponent or turn down the opportunity to headline a card.
It takes away a champion's advantage. A champion has few advantages going into his fight, besides the cool walk-in with someone holding the belt over his head and the fact that to win the belt, he has been into deep waters before and knows just what those extra two rounds require. Now anyone who has been in a main event will have that experience.
25-minute fights will eat into a broadcast window. As Meltzer noted in his column, five-round fights means that in televised events, five-round fights will only allow for three other bouts within a broadcast.
It isn't the silver-bullet to end judging questions in close fights. Lyoto Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar, and Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar all fought five-round bouts. Every one of those bouts were close, had controversial decisions and required a rematch. Those extra two rounds didn't decide anything.
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