Lately, mixed martial arts events are longer than ever. Although holding lots of events arguably helps the sport as a whole, dragging those events out over the course of several hours to see five or six fights hurts the cause. At one point in time, this wasn’t a problem because it was the norm for there to be one or maybe, at most, two events each month. But times have changed. Now, there tends to be at least one major event per weekend, and sometimes multiple events on the same day. In the month of May, for example, Bellator held three events, ONE FC held one event and the UFC held four events, two of which took place on the same day.

This upcoming weekend alone, there’s Bellator 121 and Resurrection Fighting Alliance 15 on Friday, and World Series of Fighting Canada 2, Cage Warriors 69 and UFC Fight Night 42 on Saturday. Fans can watch the Bellator, RFA and UFC events on television, and the truly dedicated can also catch WSOF Canada and Cage Warriors online. With all of this competition being broadcasted across various mediums and the collective attention span of fans only being so large, extending these events to unnecessary lengths is really starting to hurt the sport.

For example, at the Bellator 120 card, the main event started at approximately well after midnight on the East Coast. Throughout the main card, however, there were excessively long promos between fights, which really slowed down the pace of the event. It was especially odd because that particular card was Bellator’s first pay-per-view. Normally these clips would be played to a televised audience in an effort to grab channel surfers and keep them tuned in. On this particular night, the viewers had already purchased the show and didn’t need to be sold on these fights. Had these promos been cut in half, it would have helped out sleep-deprived fans in the eastern portions of the United States.

This past Saturday night at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale, the main event started shortly after 12:30 a.m. ET. Now, the late main event is one thing, but consider this: it had been 12 hours since the first fight from the promotion’s card in Germany kicked off. Sure, the main event of the Brazilian-based card lasted less than a minute, but it was scheduled to be a five-round fight. Had it gone the distance, it would have been 25 minutes of fight time, and 29 minutes of total time when you add in the minute-long breaks in between rounds. That would have pushed the card past 1 a.m. in the east.

Considering that an estimated 48 percent of American’s live in the eastern time zone, extending the length of these cards past 12:30 in the morning can start to wear thin on a potentially large portion of the MMA fan base. Back in the days when there was at most one pay-per-view per month, this was something that didn’t really bother East Coast residents, because it happened so rarely. However, now it is happening on a card where two of the top three fights on the docket are between fighters that fans don’t know about unless they purchased UFC Fight Pass and tuned in all season to The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3. Considering that the ratings for the seasons of the show that take place in America and are aired on Fox Sports 1 are low, one can only imagine the exact audience that the international show reached.

Asking fans to put any plans that they may have had aside and stay up late to watch a card like UFC 175 is perfectly acceptable. It is a huge card where Chris Weidman will battle Lyoto Machida for the title, Ronda Rousey will make her third championship defense, Chael Sonnen will take on Vitor Belfort and Urijah Faber will fight Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres, who has been on a tear as of late. But asking fans to stay tuned in through early Sunday morning to watch a co-main event between two fighters who don’t currently have Wikipedia pages and a main event which features a true heavyweight taking on a fighter who jumped up from light heavyweight is asking a lot.

Those of us on the East Coast are aware of the struggles that sports leagues face in making games or events as near to primetime as possible. Start the event at 7 p.m. in the east means that it starts 4 p.m. in the west. However, starting the event at 7 p.m. in the west means that it kicks off at 10 p.m. in the east. It’s a tough balancing act. Events that begin way before dinner in California are just as inconvenient for those fans as asking someone in New York or Boston to stay up until early morning. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to change the time-difference aspect of the situation. But there is one key thing that can be done to speed things up and satisfy fans on both coasts, and that is to cut down on all of the promos.

We get that one fighter thinks that it was disrespectful for another to call them out after their victory in their last fight. We understand that a fighter plans on taking the fight to the ground, implementing ground-and-pound and then end the fight by submission. Why do we know all of this? Well, it is because of all of the press conferences and commercials and media coverage that has swirled around the event for weeks leading up to the fight. Watching a five-minute video of the two fighters talking about it is completely unnecessary.

There is no end in sight to the high volume of events that will be taking place as MMA continues to move forward. But that isn’t the issue here. The issue is how these events play out, and at what pace. Dragging the events out with unnecessarily long promos only hurts the event. Simply starting by cutting these promos in half will fix the problem, and it should start at the top with the UFC. If the lead dog changes its ways, those who try to emulate them will change as well, the same way that they do in other aspects of the sport.

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.