What if the UFC Used a Smaller Octagon?


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Ever since my fight with Josh Koscheck I wondered what UFC fights would be like inside a cage smaller than the 32 foot diameter octagon that is being used now. I had spent a lot of time training in a smaller cage for that fight but looking back it would have been wiser to spar in a big open area with no ropes or cage surrounding my sparring partners and I. That’s pretty much how big the octagon feels.

The large diameter of the UFC cage combined with the fact that its 8 sides makes it really difficult to mount any offense against an opponent who doesn’t want to engage. With no real effective way to corner a fighter who is looking to simply stay out of range and move, fights can quickly become boring.

During my fight with Josh Koscheck, it was a major challenge to get him close enough to kick let alone punch, and even after I’d land a hard shot he’d be back out of range making combination punching almost impossible. I remember at one point actually leaping in at him while throwing a 4 punch combo and still couldn’t reach him with any of the strikes! My boxing coach still laughs about that moment as I think it threw me right into a take down.

The lack of striking returns from Koscheck luckily didn’t affect our fight because Josh engaged often, scoring some nice takedowns which kept our battle going on the ground.

We’ve seen a few situations  (ie. Starnes/Quarry comes to mind) where a fighter totally chooses to constantly disengage and the other fighter has absolutely no chance of catching up to them. Nate was actually running forward after Starnes at one point and still couldn’t do it.

Lately, I think the large cage has allowed fighters to slow and sometimes nearly halt the action within a fight. In my opinion this is extremely bad for the sport and will without a doubt hurt it’s growth in the future. Some fighters are scoring a takedown or two or landing a few mediocre shots and then riding out the clock because they absolutely know that their opponent will not be able to force them to fight.

Some champions don’t seem to want to take risks anymore using the large cage to move freely while fighting conservatively and winning by decision. I think is an approach that robs the audience of the huge amounts of excitement that many match-ups could have brought. As a fighter I’ve always looked at decision victories as much less than a full win. Sort of a “to be continued” since no one was submitted or knocked out in the process.

I think a smaller UFC octagon will promote action during fights and liven up upcoming fight cards. Let’s keep the UFC excitement train rolling!


Categories : Discussion, UFC

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  1. Gavin Devlin says:

    I think this should definitely be considered by the UFC. They always talk about how the sport is evolving, so I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t be willing to experiment slightly. I’m actually suprised nobody has suggested this before, especially with booing becoming so common during events now. It used to be that the fans would boo when a fight wasn’t all wild striking, but most fans now appreciate the other disciplines, and in my opinion would boo less as long as they had some sort of action to cheer about. Dana is always encouraging fighters to “leave it all in the cage” and the referees are constantly seperating fighters to try and provoke more action. Seems logical to decrease the space in which the fighters can avoid each other.

    UFC is all about the show, and to their credit they do put on a hell of a show. The impressive size of the Octagon is obviously part of the spectacle, but maybe on this occassion they should sacrifice a small piece of the event grandeur, for more action.

  2. Jeff Morris says:

    Dana has gone on record saying that Joe Silva wants/wanted a smaller cage. (interview from shortly after TUF Season 10). I think that would be pretty awesome, though I wonder how it would affect some of the bigger guys (Mir, Lesnar, Carwin, etc.)

    What size would be the best compromise? 30? 28?
    Now, as a somewhat but not entirely related question. Having fought in both rings and cages, Jeff, what do you prefer, and what do you think offers the more neutral environment for the fighters?

    The Cage seems to dominate North American MMA, as far as the big guys go (with the UFC, Strikeforce and Belator using them, and formerly EliteXC). There are exceptions, but the cage is the preference.

    In Japan it looks like the opposite, both DREAM and PRIDE having been almost Ring exclusive. Even many MMA fighters and fans say they prefer a ring, including Nick Diaz just prior to his recent DREAM fight.

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