Examine 5 MMA fights that we wish had another two rounds to go.
MMA main events are commonplace within the sport. Every card has a last fight, or as they say, a main event. It’s the one fight that’s the featured attraction that thousands of people bought a ticket to see and millions more spent hard-earned money to watch the event on pay-per-view. For years, however, five-round main events were inconsistent unless a belt was on the line.
That narrative changed in 2011 when the UFC announced that going forward, all main events would be five rounds. Since that change a decade ago, the UFC has mostly stuck to its word and delivered five-round main events on a weekly basis.
But sometimes, there are those fights where we can only dream that it was a five-rounder and not scheduled for three. Here are five fights that fit that description.
1. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar 1 — TUF 1 Finale
A five-round fight wishlist would not be complete without the aforementioned TUF 1 Finale between future UFC light heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin, and longtime divisional mainstay, Stephan Bonnar. Both men competed for a six-figure contract at the end of the inaugural season of the show. Little did the public realize that what they were watching was the berth of MMA as we know it today. Griffin and Bonnar went toe-to-toe for three rounds before they nearly collapsed on the canvas from exhaustion. The crowd began chanting “one more round” before the decision was finally read, as Griffin was eventually awarded the win in a fight that many believe saved the sport from obscurity.
2. Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva — UFC 79
In one of the most highly-anticipated fights of the post-PRIDE era saw former champions Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva finally compete against one another in the Octagon. For years, Dana White and the UFC attempted to bring Silva to the U.S. to determine who the best light heavyweight in the world was.
Unfortunately, both sides could not come to terms on a deal, and the bout was scheduled for UFC 79 in Dec. 2007. Despite there being no belt up for grabs, the fight lived up to the hype and saw Liddell take home a decision win in what would ultimately be his final MMA victory. The fight was action-packed with both men trading big punches that left us wanting so much more, including two more rounds of pure heart and aggression.
3. Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje — UFC 218
Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje put on one of the best fights in recent memory during the UFC 218 pay-per-view card. Both men stood in the center of the Octagon and started blasting one another in front of the Detroit faithful. Finally, in the third round, Alvarez caught Gaethje with a punch and finished off with some ground and pound. What was missing, though, was more time in the fight itself. Both men left it all out and two more rounds of pure boxing would have been immensely fun.
4. Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung — WEC 48
One of the single greatest fights in MMA history did not take place in the UFC, but in the WEC. In April 2010, Spike TV aired the WEC 48 preliminary portion ahead of the night’s main card. The final fight prior to the pay-per-view saw Chan Sung Jung (aka “The Korean Zombie”) take on former UFC veteran, Leonard Garcia. Both men threw every shot with bad intentions, and despite Garcia losing the vast majority of the striking exchanges, was able to secure a split decision win against Jung. Two more rounds may have told a different story of the fight’s eventual outcome, but we’ll never know.
5. Marloes Coenen vs. Miesha Tate — Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson
Marloes Coenen and Miesha Tate competed for the Strikeforce bantamweight championship in July 2011. It was a wild contest that featured many unique twists and turns, including Coenen nearly finishing Tate on several occasions. By the time the fourth round began, Tate looked like she was going to lose a decision before pulling out a victory from the jaws of defeat with a rear-naked choke stoppage. Had it gone to a fifth and final round, Coenen may have cruised to a decision victory and the outcome would have been uneventful at best. Or, Tate would have had five more minutes to pull it off.
While most three-round fights are routine, there are some that simply need a boost. It has now become more of a habit with Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz being five rounds, along with the upcoming UFC 266 non-title bout between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler that is scheduled for five rounds, too. Will this idea of five-round non-title fights continue? Only time will tell.