After UFC 159 eye pokes become the hot topic of discussion among MMA community. Here is my attempt to analyze the problem & try to find solution
Eye-pokes: They’re devastating, career-threatening, unfairly handled during fights, and mysteriously under-penalized. Due to the open-fingered nature of the gloves, gouging is a unique and unfortunately common problem in MMA. Eye pokes are terrible, everyone knows that whether they have ever fought in a cage, had a sparring session, or lived for a substantial period of time. In MMA they have become a growing problem, finally coming to a head at UFC 159. We saw not one, but two technical decisions after third round eye pokes, which is quite unusual.
But can anything be done to fix it? According to UFC president Dana White during a recent appearance on ESPN 710am radio in LA, the promotion is looking at a new solution — changing the design of the gloves: “We actually have started to work on a new glove that actually curves your hand. Like the glove is curved like a U, so you can still open your hand, but your fingers don’t point straight out.”
Of course everyone points to modifying the gloves as the end-all-be-all solution to the problem, but it's not that simple. Altering the gloves to keep a fighter's fingers in would create a big hindrance to their grappling ability. Dana White believes the real solution lay in the fighters themselves. "Guys need to keep their damn hands closed," he said. "You can't reach out toward the face with the hands open in a fight. You can't do it."
White’s statement does get strength from a unofficial FightMatrix stat which states that in the last 1300 UFC fights eye pokes that halts a fight occurred in only 3% or 4% of the fights. Although the stat doesn't show the severity of the problem but does indicate that gloves are not the only problem.
Now let’s look into the Rule book to get a clear picture. Currently, the Unified Rules in North America state that,' When a foul is charged, the referee in their discretion may deduct one or more points as a penalty. If a foul incapacitates a fighter, then the match may end in a disqualification if the foul was intentional, or a no contest if unintentional. If a foul causes a fighter to be unable to continue later in the bout, it ends with a technical decision win to the injured fighter if the injured fighter is ahead on points, otherwise it is a technical draw'.
I think this rule is part of the problem & it was clearly evident in Gian Villante vs Ovince St. Preux fight at UFC 159. If only doctors could stop a fight it would prove a big improvement in the rule & avoid situation mentioned above. Also I found an easy solution of the problem in India where MMA is in its infancy but the athletic commission (AMMAI) rules are very satisfactory. below is the link to their website. They provide fighter with 5 min time to recover which i think is quite fare & best way to solve this problem.. AMMAI:- http://ammai.in/rules.html
TheMmaIndia Verdict: - so as far as the solution to this problem goes ultimately, the eye-poke issue will never be truly corrected, as any number of solutions present valid counter-arguments. It will take a combination of change in gear, coaches teaching their fighters not to paw out with an open hand, tougher officiating when an eye poke does occur along with some necessary modification in current rules, to actually reduce the severity of this problem