No less a personality than Georges St-Pierre recently said that he believes MMA should do away with rounds, in favour of uninterrupted 15 or 25 minute fights.
It’s a startling statement for a fighter who has been so successful in the current model that his aesthetic appreciation for the purity of martial arts leads him to suggest changes to a format that suits him down to the ground.
GSP correctly asserts that rounds became part of the unified rules in order that MMA would somewhat resemble boxing and would smooth the path to mainstream acceptance. With that all but achieved, why not move to a purer format which will better reward cardio, heart and skill over cynical game plans?
We all remember how PRIDE FC’s brutal ten minute opening round was a great way of separating the warriors from the poseurs and we can all see how a minute’s rest, time to think about it and coaches advice can swing a match.
How many fights have we seen where one competitor dominates the first round, only for the other fighter to be saved by the bell, rally and come back in the later rounds?
Is that a good thing, or a distortion of pure competition?
You have to assume that a one round, fifteen or twenty five minute fight, rather than the best of 3 or 5 x 5 minute rounds would have seriously changed MMA history.
We could so easily have had Gray Maynard, Shane Carwin, Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen as UFC champions, seen Lyoto Machida end Jon Jones’ reign as Light Heavyweight champion and a thousand other alternate results.
On the other hand, shifting the format of MMA now that it is finally gaining mainstream traction could be catastrophic, the increased likelihood of brutal finishes in extended fights could cause a backlash from athletic commissions and weak stomached types, and the possibility of a tepid, drawn out snooze fest between two gassed fighters could lose the sport fans.
So what do you think? Would doing away with rounds enliven or harm MMA? Would it be a good move from a sporting aspect, or not. Would the potential harm to the image of the sport outweigh the purity of the format?
Please vote, and sound off with your thoughts.