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Dana White: 'Harsher penalties' needed for eye-poke offenders

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- For the second straight UFC event, a fight ended as the direct result of an eye-poke.

On Friday night, K.J. Noons caught Daron Cruickshank with a finger to the eye in the second round of their The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale bout. Cruickshank was blinded and unable to continue. The fight, which was shaping up to be one of the most exciting of the night, was called a no contest.

Just six days ago, Urijah Faber poked Francisco Rivera in the eye on the prelims of UFC 181, also in Vegas. Rivera couldn't see and Faber pounced, leading to a neck crank submission victory in the second round. Rivera, who was performing well in the fight, has appealed the result with the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC).

"I don't know what to do about eye-pokes other than the refs telling them to close their hands and there has to be harsher penalties," UFC president Dana White said Friday at the post-fight press conference. "If you poke a guy in the eye, you have to lose the round or something. There has to be harsher penalties and it will make guys and girls keep their hands closed."

Cruickshank tweeted afterward that he had a torn tear duct and posted a photo of the cut. White said doctors told Cruickshank that there didn't appear to be any damage done to the eyeball, but he will need further tests and surgery on the tear duct.

Rivera will also need surgery to repair a cracked retina. It's unclear when either Rivera or Cruickshank will be able to return to the Octagon. Both are clamoring for rematches. White said he would consider granting one to Cruickshank, who won the first round on all three judges' cards.

"That was a fun fight," White said. "I was excited for that fight, actually."

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