Bellator Considering 5-Round Non-Title Fight Main Events


When the MMA world first heard of Gegard Mousasi's signing with Bellator MMA, everyone was hyped to see the 185 lb Veteran's debut in the promotion.

Come Bellator 185, the time for hype was over and it was time to see if Mousasi could get it done against Russian MMA veteran Alexander Shlemenko. Early in the fight, Mousasi got tagged by a Shlemenko overhand left and it landed right on his eye, swelling it up for the rest of the fight.

Mousasi looked somewhat lethargic or slow in the remainder of the fight on the feet, but still demonstrated his grappling prowess with takedowns and submission attempts. Shlemenko however was showing promising stand up and by the end of the third round, the question was could Mousasi continue to fight off Shlemenko's forward assault and continue to get him to the ground? Or would Shlemenko find a way to knock down Gegard in the 4th and 5th to find a split decision or even TKO?

Well..actually, this question was never asked in this fight, and the fight ended in the 3rd round. Mousasi took away the Unanimous Decision victory although some argue Shlemenko could've won the fight. This was a semi-disappointing end for some.

The fight didn't go 5 rounds because Bellator MMA doesn't have 5 round fights in their Non-Title main events. If there is no title on the line in the main fight of the card, then it only goes 3 rounds, just like the rest of the bouts.

There have been a few cards where the main event has felt a bit short such as Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva at Bellator NYC or Benson Henderson vs. Patricky Freire at Bellator 183. Both of these main events most certainly could've had more dramatic endings or different results had they been full 5 round main events. A plus to the 5 round main event system that the UFC uses is that a main event fighter that goes all 5 round can demonstrate their ability to perform in championship matches if they go the full distance.

Fortunately, in the wake of Bellator 185, Scott Coker admitted that 5-round main events could be in the future of Bellator. On his appearance on Ariel Helwani's The MMA Hour podcast, Coker spoke about the possibilities of 5-round main events, and how Bellator will handle the main events immediately going forward.

"It's something that we've debated internally, and like I said at the press conferences, once you do it you can't go back...There's been some thought on both sides, but right now we are going to continue with the three-round main events and five-round title fights. But it's still being debated internally and I think it will just be a matter of when it happens, but I think eventually we'll head in that direction."

Coker also admitted that he feels the fight could've gone another way, if they had a 5 round main event in place for it.

"I have people debating me here and it makes a lot of sense because if this fight was a five-round fight, clearly I think it would have gone Shlemenko's way. I'm kind of in the middle here. We'll see what happens. It's being debated, that's for sure."

And although he conceded that he feels 5 round main events could be a step Bellator takes, he also provided his thought behind keeping the 3-round main events for now, and it is an argument that not many have considered. 

"I'm not opposed to three rounds to be honest, because it's something that when you go in there and you know it's three rounds, you're going to fight your ass off for three rounds and go at it...You can't pace yourself, it's going to be a much quicker paced fight than a five-round fight."

While Bellator's take on Main events could be why they have a quicker pace, Coker has seriously debated going the 5-round direction and being the realistic thinker that he is, he also thinks that it is a very realistic option at this point for the company.

Going forward for the foreseeable future, (in MMA that's about 6 months, tops) Bellator will have 3-round non title Main events, but it will be interesting to see how they will go about making 5 round main events, and what else they do to grow with the rapidly evolving sport of MMA.


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