by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
People have been discussing what to do about accidental eyepokes in mixed martial arts for some time now. There is no way to fix the gloves so that eyepokes are impossible without fucking up the grappling game. There are two problems with the eyepoke: First, the refs almost never see them. Second, there is absolutely no detriment to the poker.
With regard to the first issue, they need to start letting the fighters signal when there’s been an eyepoke in order to stop the action. The way things are now, if the ref doesn’t see it and one guy reacts like he’s clearly been poked in the eye, the ref does nothing. Then the pokee has to hope that the other guy doesn’t fucking murder him while he can’t see. That happened more than once tonight at UFC 159.
Sometimes the ref even refuses to stop the action. It’s not the ref’s fault a lot of the time that they don’t see this shit. If you’re not in slow motion at the exact right camera angle, you just see two guys throwing hands. They need to let the fighters call time, and if the replay shows no eyepoke, they can penalize them a point or something. The current system isn’t working.
The second issue with eyepokes is that there really isn’t any penalty for doing it. Has anyone ever seen an eyepoke ruled intentional? I haven’t, ever. That’s probably correct, because they’re not really intentional, they’re more often negligent. They come from guys who know there is no penalty just pumping out their hand with fingers outstretched. If there was some sort of penalty for sticking your finger in a guy’s eye, fighters might be a little more careful.
Michael Bisping’s eyepoke in particular, he was clearly sticking his hand out with his fingers outstretched. Bisping’s not a dirty fighter, and obviously didn’t mean to do it, but if you’re ahead by two rounds on the card, you shouldn’t get a certain win if you put your thumb in your opponent’s eye. They need to give the ref the ability to take a point for accidental eyepokes. Shit’s just getting out of hand.
The shit that happened in the OSP vs. Gian Villante fight was a fucking joke. Gian got poked in the eye hard, referee Kevin Mulhall didn’t see it, and didn’t stop the fight. OSP obviously didn’t think it was sporting to beat the shit out of Villante when he was squatting and holding his eye. Mulhall immediately asked Villante if he could see, which he obviously couldn’t because he just took a thumb in the eye from a Division 1 football player, and rather than giving Villante the customary time to recover, Mulhall called off the fight. That’s the worst decision I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what the explanation is going to be afterwards, but I expect it will be the usual bullshit excuses.