On Saturday, May 29, Rashad Evans and Rampage Jacksons squared off in a UFC fight that was more than 8 months in the making.
But after three rounds of one of the most anticipated fights in the sport’s history, a fight that many fans paid upwards of 250-500 dollars to watch in person, many of those fans still believe that not a whole lot has been settled in one of the biggest grudge matches of all-time.
Give Evans credit for doing what he needed to do in order to win the fight, but truth be told, Evans didn’t do a whole lot of damage to his opponent and instead managed to win mostly on the strength of his wrestling takedowns and a solid strategy of holding Rampage against the fence in order to shorten the fight and stay away from his opponent’s trademark power shots from the right hand.
The Rampage vs. Rashad UFC 114 fight is just one example of why many fans feel that the big-name fighters should be given more than just three five-minute rounds to prove themselves in main event fights put on by the UFC.
Many other much more egregious examples are out there of UFC fights where neither guy really came close to finishing the fight and instead opted to play it safe in order to hold on for an ultimately unsatisfying decision win.
Evans’ UFC 108 fight against Thiago Silva is another one that comes to mind as is Forrest Griffin’s recent close win over Tito Ortiz just to name a few.
Fans want to see their favorite fighters get a chance to either win or lose the fight, but in a three-round fight, a fighter only needs to win the first round and a half or so before playing it safe and then stalling for a win.
In other occasions, like the Wanderlei Silva-Chuck Liddell fight that took years to finally come to fruition, the fans simply wanted desperately to see the fight continue to its ultimate conclusion.
When you get two guys together who are worthy enough of being the main event, chances are that they are going to be so seasoned and so well-schooled that finishes will be unlikely, and that means that stalling tactics are very likely to come into play. The three-round format also favors wrestlers who can control the fight yet aren’t always willing to go for finishes for fear of putting themselves in bad spots.
The rewards for UFC fighters to go for finishes are great, but in a fight between title contenders in a non-title main event, the importance of playing it safe and doing whatever it takes to win is too big for most of these guys to feel like it’s necessary to take chances in order to finish fights.
While it would be an interesting departure from UFC rules, Dana White, the UFC president, has always said that his main goal is to put on fights that people want to watch. In other words, the UFC is in the entertainment business, and the fans simply aren’t getting their money’s worth watching such short main events that the organization has spent months and months hyping up.
The UFC can implement this change in one of two ways: either the organization adds a special category of “title contender fights” where the winner gets a title shot such as the Paul Daley vs. Josh Koscheck fight at UFC 113 and the UFC 114 match between Rampage and Evans, or it can simply make the change for non-title main events.
While Koscheck is the superior fighter to Daley in most fans’ eyes, he didn’t even attempt to finish their fight because he knew he could take down Daley at will for the short three-round fight and used stalling tactics to gain an easy decision win. A five-round fight would have at least been more exciting and more of an indicator of where Koscheck really stands as a title contender. Having a five-round fight as a co-main event may seem like a bit much but really, what’s the obstacle here? The UFC holds many cards with two title fights that go five rounds, and since when is more UFC action a bad thing? It wouldn’t come at any additional cost to the organization, either.
In the case of both fights, UFC fans would have walked away from each fight feeling as though they truly were able to see which guy is the superior fighter and also would have been able to see the kind of action and fireworks they pay hundreds of dollars to see in person and 50 dollars on pay-per-view as well.
If the fans knew what was good for them, they would lobby UFC President Dana White for the change because White has shown in the past that he is willing to do what the fans want in order to keep them happy.