Seems like just about everyone involved in mixed martial arts these days has an opinion on judges’ decisions and whether or not a new system is needed to eliminate controversy.
UFC heavyweight contender Roy Nelson is no exception.
Nelson recently told ESPN.com he’d like to see professional MMA adopt three-minute rounds, a length utilized in boxing and most amateur MMA fights. Under the change, a professional MMA fight would rise from three rounds to five and title fights would become 10-round affairs.
There are multiple reasons for switching to three-minute rounds, according to Nelson. Shorter time frames would likely discourage the "feeling out" process often seen in fights. Plus, more rounds could potentially mean more momentum swings -- one of the most exciting aspects of the sport.
“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.”
Nelson points to a light heavyweight fight between Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida at UFC 123 to illustrate his point. Jackson won a split decision in the fight, conceivably by taking two action-less rounds before being handled convincingly by Machida in the third.
Had that fight been split up into five three-minute rounds, Nelson says Machida would have rightly won the fight.
“Split that up and Machida wins, hands down,” Nelson said. “The first two rounds could have been 10-10, because nothing happened. Then Machida dominated late.”
Another major advantage of switching to three-minute rounds from five is it would, theoretically, make the job of judging fights easier.
Five minutes is more than enough time for both fighters to establish equally effective rhythms. More often than not, Nelson says, the fighter that does so last is the one who wins the round, even if he clearly lost a majority of the time.
“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.”
Nelson’s call might seem like a pipe dream, but his logic behind it, especially when it comes to three-minute rounds being easier to judge, is tough to argue.
Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said it’s “common sense” that Nelson’s proposal would make life easier for judges.
“Three-minute rounds is less stuff to judge. It’s easier to run a mile than a marathon,” Kizer said. “Five minutes is a long time and it does make judging more difficult.”