What are some impactful changes MMA can make to better the sport?
MMA is doing very well; from the UFC to Bellator, even the PFL and ONE Championship.
This sport has grown from a barbaric, no-rules barred backyard type fighting organization, to one that draws in new fans with every event. We love the sport, but could the sport be better?
Yes, and here are a few suggestions…
2-MINUTE REST TIME BETWEEN ROUNDS
Boxing rounds are 3-minutes long, with a 1-minute rest period between rounds. MMA contests can be between 3-5 rounds, each round no more than 5 minutes duration. The rest period is currently 1-minute in between rounds.
Why is the break time not the same when they should be? Not only are the rounds longer, MMA is more demanding than Boxing. People will argue that this might extend viewing time by an extra 15-20 minutes per show. After 3 rounds, fighters are a bit spent… A 2-minute rest would allow them to recover a bit more and possibly make the fight more exciting.
This could be the reason why 4th or 5th round finishes are almost non-existent.
LET’S FIX THE JUDGING
The judges should be ex-fighters and coaches. Fighters will be fairly rewarded and penalized if they are judged by people who have experience in fighting and coaching. When we are watching an event, the diversity of the fighters can’t be overlooked, the judges should be same. Diversity within the judging ranks would reduce any bias that may exist. After years of the same group of judges scoring fights, they know the scoring pattern of other judges.
Finally, judges should sit separately around the cage. This allows judges to have different viewpoints, so they could get a complete view of the fight.
GO WITH SMALLER OCTAGON
Fighters prefer the regular size octagon (30 ft. cage). But fans would like to see fights contested in the smaller cage (25 ft. cage). Fights in the smaller cage are fan-friendly, and normally more action packed. Combatants are forced to engage versus circling their way around the cage to avoid being in a close-knit scrap.
Strikers can use the smaller octagon as part of their takedown defense. When a fighter is in a position to be taken down, they have a smaller distance to scramble to get their back to the cage and prevent the takedown.
Overall, smaller octagons allow more action and fighter engagement, decisions will be lessened, and finishes will be more likely.
OPEN THE FORBIDDEN DOOR TO CROSS-PROMOTION
As the industry leader, the UFC would never go for this idea. But fans of the sport would love it. Back in the day, Wanderlei Silva came from Pride to fight Chuck Liddell in one of the most anticipated fights at that point in time. There hasn’t been much crossover anywhere in the sport, except for Bellator and Rizin twice matching up their bantamweight champions.
It would be fun to see how the best from Bellator and ONE fare against the best in the UFC. The real reason why cross-promotion is just a pipe dream is because the UFC would have to share profits with a smaller organization. The spirit of competition and wanting to know which promotion has the better fighters should spark at least a conversation centered around cross-promotion.
Change is not always viewed as a good thing. But sometimes you must make changes to benefit the sport. Extending the rest period in between rounds, overhauling the judges, using the smaller octagon and allowing cross-promotion could help grow the sport and make it more appealing to a new fanbase.