After collecting my thoughts and giving myself some time to think clearly I wanted to address the controversial split decision of the Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson fight at UFC 93. I asked myself whether these fighters might be best served if these fights went longer than the normal three rounds for non-championship fights and five rounds for title bouts. Even before the Henderson vs. Franklin matchup I knew the fight had the potential to be a thrilling back and forth affair that would more than likely wind up in the hands of the judges. Lo and behold I was right.
On top of the fact that the fight was extremely close, there was another controversial judge who must have been watching a different fight than the rest of us. How anyone could have scored the first round for Franklin amazes me. While the second round was close and the third was clearly Franklin’s, Henderson was in complete control of the first round and that reinforces my point that it is becoming more & more dangerous for these fighters to leave their fate in the hands of the judges.
I believe these fighters work too hard and dedicate too much of their lives to risk being robbed by a judge who is either incompetent or just isn’t all that knowledgeable about the sport. With that being said, I also believe that there is so much riding on some of these fights — whether it be a title shot or a fighter’s actual career — that these guys deserve more time to have a chance to finish the fight.
How many times have you sat there watching a thrilling fight only to be disappointed when it was over and you knew that the fighters involved had much more to give. One fight that comes to mind is the classic Bonnar vs. Griffin bout at the TUF 1 Finale. Now, that fight had serious implications, not only for both fighters but for the UFC as well. Without that fight we may not be discussing this topic right here and now. Although both fighters were spent after 15 minutes they would have moved heaven and earth if they had to in order to finish that fight.
Another fight that comes to mind was the much-anticipated Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva showdown at UFC 79. Fans waited years for these two to lock horns and we were not disappointed at all, but how many of you would have loved to see it continue in order to see if one these two great warriors could have finished the other one off. How about the Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill travesty that took place at UFC 75? Even the hometown Bisping’s fans were booing that decision. I can’t say that extending the fight to five rounds would have guaranteed a finish but it would have gone a long way in determining a clear-cut winner.
There are many fights that I could list and we could argue about them until we are blue in the face, but I honestly think that these fighters deserve to control their own destiny and it is rather difficult to do that within a 15 minute time frame when some of the combatants are so evenly matched. Title fights at this time are 5 rounds and the last title fight to go the distance was Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch at UFC 87. Now, I know and you know that another two rounds wouldn’t have done much more than add to the beating that Fitch was already taking, but he trained hard for the fight and who’s to say that he couldn’t have pulled off a miracle?
I want to know if you think it isn’t necessary to extend MMA fights. You may have a great argument and you could sway my opinion or maybe I can sway yours. That is what makes this sport so great — it allows us to express our emotions and go back and forth on them just like these great fighters do when they step inside the Octagon. The only difference is we don’t have a time limit set against us.