Opinion: Abolish Rounds In MMA?
By Jesse Heitz
There has been an interesting discussion regarding the current format of MMA, and whether or not it needs to change. The current water cooler chatter focuses on the possibility that MMA in general, and perhaps more importantly its fans, might be better served if the sport no longer utilized the round system that has been in place for nearly the entire history of organized MMA.
What’s even more interesting is that this impromptu discussion was inspired by current UFC Welterweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre. Often lambasted by the MMA world as the epitome of the decision or lay-and-pray fighter, it seems quite surreal that GSP would be in favor of such a return to the early days of MMA. Yet, these are indeed the words of the MMA great.
In a recent interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast, GSP stated,
“There’s a lot of things I would change in the sport. First of all the time: there’s no time, no rounds. I believe it’s stupid, the rounds. We want to see who’s the best man. Let them fight…Why are there rounds? Why are we trying to be like boxing? We’re not boxers. They did rounds to be like boxing to be accepted as a sport.”
He continued by saying,
“100-percent [I would do it]. I would rather fight in a rule like this. I think it would be more honest, like who’s the better man, let them fight. [Back when Gracie fought Sakuraba], that’s when it used to be the real thing, back in the day. That’s why I have so much respect for these guys—Royce, [Mark] Coleman, Dan Severn.
It was a time when I literally watched a fight back in the day and thought someone could die. You needed to have so much courage back in the day to step into the Octagon, much more courage than nowadays.”
There is very little chance that any athletic commission, nor the prominent promotions themselves, would ever agree to a format that is easily criticized as “archaic” and dangerous, and could allow MMA’s detractors a foothold in their quest to stall out the sport’s growth. However, I certainly like where GSP’s heart is at.
What die-hard fan wouldn’t like to see the goliaths of the sport step into the mold that was created by the sport’s forefathers? In an odd sense, I’d like to see a return to the old days of fighting until there was a clear winner and loser. However, I realize that with the evolution of the sport comes increased regulation, and that such a process is not always a bad thing.
I’m all for taking the often problematic judges out of the equation, but what would the tradeoff be? Would we see the budding careers of young fighters squashed as fighters are forced to fight until they could fight no more? How many years does a 90-minute Gracie/Sakuraba type of fight take off of one’s career? As a fan, are a handful of drawn-out fights worth what could otherwise be a long line of entertaining bouts?
Also, if a fight cannot be finished in 15 or 25 minutes, would we get a satisfactory finish in the potentially unlimited time that could follow, would we consider a corner throwing in the towel or a fighter submitting due to “exhaustion” to be any more satisfying than a hard-fought decision that can lead to an even more hyped rematch?
I don’t claim to have any answers on this subject, just more questions. Either way, GSP’s proposition is certainly an interesting one to consider.