After my last article on eye pokes, the resounding response from most people was that Pride had the best glove design to help prevent eye pokes. A great quote from Tim Kennedy on the Joe Rogan Podcast in May of 2018 heavily supports this claim; “Take their gloves, and take the word PRIDE off of it, and put those three letters [UFC] on there and BAM, a solution.”
I find it intriguing that despite this common knowledge, other promotions haven’t used that glove design. There have to be reasons why. I’m sure individual grapplers don’t like the Pride design as much. I’m guessing dominant grappling fighters have to weigh the risk of an eye poke versus having a harder time grappling. Perhaps it’s a risk well worth taking. Having your style affected would impact your overall career more than the risk of being eye poked. Even with the Pride glove design, it doesn’t mean zero eye pokes would occur. We’d likely only see a slight drop in how often they occur.
Photo from Reddit
My guess is the above reasoning is why promotions (esp the UFC and Bellator) haven’t taken any fast, drastic measures on change. Overall, there’s not a ton of eye pokes that occur. Because a high percentage of the worst eye pokes have occurred in recent high profile fights it’s generated more attention than usual. In the eyes of the promotions, there’s no major panic as of yet. However, imagine if a fight like Khabib vs. Conor was stopped like Yair vs. Stephens. People would have been massively outraged. Promotions have to be considering that as part of the gamble, that hopefully, this type of bad luck doesn’t extend to their most significant PPV main events.
A Bleacher Report article by Jonathan Snowden from 2013 is a great read on this subject matter.
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A post shared by Maurice Spears (@maurice_spears) on Nov 28, 2018 at 5:10pm PST
I still have to revert to the premise of my last article, which is a change in how fighters are punished for committing fouls as eye pokes. A more harsh stance in the rules is probably needed more than a shift in glove design. Coupling both together seems the most logical if you want to see a massive drop in fighters committing these types of infractions of the rules.
I’d like to see more urgency from promotions and commissions to make changes to help reduce eye pokes and other infractions that significantly impact (or end) fights. They are much too willing to gamble whether something catastrophic happens or not that forces them to take action. Like severe weight cutting, do we need a high profile fighter to die before a change? With eye pokes, does somebody like Conor McGregor need to lose an eye and his career before people freak out? In my opinion, the change should occur before it gets that far, even if it upsets a few people. Not everybody can be happy when things change, but it doesn’t mean change should not occur. Fighter safety is essential, especially when the risk of death or career-ending injuries are possible or even worse plausible.
Thank you to all the people who gave feedback on the first article. I genuinely believe the more people that talk about this and encourage the need for change, the more likely it will happen. Fans are what keep MMA alive. If we’re not happy, it’s a detriment to what promotions and fighters are trying to accomplish. We do not want to pay our hard-earned money to watch a fight be stopped 15 seconds into the fight because of a foul — especially ones that could potentially be avoided with improved rules and equipment.
Jason Marlowe, UnknownMMA. Follow Jason on twitter: @Sealclubber