Imagine scoring the first two rounds of Jon Fitch vs. BJ Penn with 3 minute rounds

UFC heavyweight and TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson voiced his opinion on how to improve the judging in MMA. He would like to see MMA move from the current 5 minute rounds that are in place to a shorter 3 minute round. His reasoning is simple, it’s less time that the judges have to evaluate each round. He states the following to support the change:

You’d probably see a lot more action because you’re constantly trying to win the round,” Nelson said. “Guys wouldn’t be feeling out for two minutes. It’s boom, you’ve got to go right away.

“They want to add more championship rounds — that’s where I say switch everything to three minutes and go 10 rounds. Then you have a lot of ups and downs.”

Basically, Nelson thinks the shorter time frame would negate the ‘feelin out’ process fighters often go through to establish rhythm and range at the beginning of each fight and sometimes each round.

I highly doubt fighters would be in there saying “I’ve really got to get after him now because I only have 3 minutes.” I think itwould be more along the lines of “we’re about half-way through the round and if I get this takedown this round is all mine baby.” Also, would 3 minutes be fair to guys that specialize in grappling? It’s difficult enough to submit opponents with 5 minute rounds in place. We certainly do not want MMA to morph into ultimate kickboxing nor do we want it to be a takedown contest either. I think 5 minutes is a healthy medium and it’s something that separate MMA from boxing.

By the way, did you watch the Pacquiao vs. Mosley boxing match this past weekend? There were rounds where Pacquiao blew Mosley out because he was more active. However, there were rounds that featured both guys doing relatively nothing. That would make it pretty difficult to judge if that were to happen in MMA, because judges rarely use 10-10 rounds. So they would be given fighter A the round because he landed 2 more strikes than fighter B the entire round?  No thanks. 

 Here’s more on why judges have a hard time with 5 minute rounds:

“I’d say judges lose sight,” Nelson said. “One guy will dominate for four minutes, the other dominates for a minute and they give the round to the second guy.

“I’ve watched fights where I actually take a stopwatch and say, ‘No, he won four minutes of that round but the judges gave it to the other guy.’ They just remember that last minute. Three minutes is short enough that the whole round stays in your head.”

See, no matter what you change it always comes back to the judges being educated on how to properly judge an MMA fight. You would still have the same problem in a three minute round. In fact, I’d argue that it would make judging even more difficult and lead to more questionable decisions. In this case less would be more because you could potentially have incompetent  judges evaluating more action in less time. Let’s stick to what has worked thus far, but just get the judges better educated and some monitors to make the job easier while still being fair to the fighters.


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