At UFC 167, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre will fight No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks for five five-minute rounds, as set forth by the unified rules that govern the sport of MMA.
But if he had written that all-important guide, there would be no breaks between the 25 minutes of fighting for a title bout. The champ wants to bring back old-school fighting.
“I believe MMA should not [have] rounds,” St-Pierre told MMAjunkie.com in advance of his pay-per-view headliner on Nov. 16 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden arena. “A regular fight, for example, should be 15 minutes nonstop, and a championship fight should be 25 minutes nonstop.”
It’s been over a decade since his vision was a reality. Time limits were replaced by rounds at UFC 21, which took place in 1999 at the height of MMA’s days as a fringe sport sacked by serious political opposition. In 2000, the unified rules were utilized by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, which was the first athletic commission to sanction MMA.
Among them, non-title fights require three five-minute rounds, while title fights get five five-minute rounds.
Additional rules and protocols have appeased adversaries and allowed the sport to enter the mainstream, though some of them, such as the 10-point must system for scoring and the banning of knees to a downed opponent, remain a source of griping among hardcore fans.
St-Pierre’s wrestling-centric style often gets the same reception from the MMA faithful, though the champ believes the system he currently works within makes it harder to deliver excitement.
“I think by doing rounds, we’re breaking the momentum of the fight and making the fight different,” he said. “I think the rounds have been added in the past because they want it to be more similar to boxing, but I believe in MMA, we are our own sport. We should not try to copy any other sport.
“If you want to see two guys fighting each other and see who’s the best man, let them fight. Don’t stop the fight until it’s finished. If there were no rounds, I believe there would be way more finishes.”
St-Pierre (24-2 MMA, 18-2 UFC), who first called for time-limit fights in April, also wants to see improved drug testing implemented across the board for athletes. He currently is enrolled with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, which utilizes out-of-competition testing, though a behind-the-scenes snafu with Hendricks (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) and his reps nixed his participation.
The longtime welterweight champion, whose fight with “Big Rigg” is his ninth attempted title defense, said enhanced testing will bring MMA closer to bigger mainstream sports. Most of them employ periods or breaks. But he wants to see action to its natural end, or at least as close as possible.
“The fight would be way more fantastic, and the show will be better,” St-Pierre said. “That’s what I would change about the rules.”
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(Pictured: Georges St-Pierre)