"We blew it," UFC President Dana White said. "It should have been a five-round fight."
After UFC on FUEL TV's thrilling main event between Jake Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez last night, media and fans alike questioned why a headlining bout of significance between two known action fighters would only be scheduled for three rounds. Sanchez himself wondered aloud in his post-fight comments with UFC announcer Jon Anik why the fight wasn't longer. In fact, the UFC had previously announced all main events would be five-rounds whether a title was on the line or not. According to White, it should have been and that mistake won't be repeated.
"I was sitting here again tonight looking at the fight going, 'Yeah, this should have been five rounds.' I think that if Ellenberger and Diego went back in there for a fourth round the place would have went crazy. People were ready for it at home," White lamented to FUEL TV's Ariel Helwani after the event.
Contrary to suggestion, the decision to make Ellenberger vs. Sanchez was not a directive from FUEL. "FUEL would have let us do 33 rounds if we wanted to," White noted. Remaining coy about who had responsibility for the decision, White hinted the choice was made internally at the UFC, but not one they'll make again. "I'm not gonna throw anybody under the bus but we blew it, we should have done it."
The only caveat to UFC's plans for universal five-round main events would be existing contractual limits. "There will be five round fights from here on in," White continued, "other than contracts that have already been signed."
The UFC first hinted at the possibility of holding non-title five-round main events in April of 2011. By June, the UFC formally announced the change. "From this day forward, any fight that is signed after right now today will be a five-round fight," White announced days prior to UFC 131.
The move to five rounds is designed to reduce the possibility of controversial or indecisive endings as well as to add a measure of grandeur to main events.