In a recent interview on BJ Penn Radio, Jorge Masvidal pulled no punches sharing his views on eye poking in MMA. “It’s something that they need to work on dramatically.” Masvidal stated when talking about the recent fight directly effected by eye poking between Gunnar Nelson and Santiago Ponzinibbio. Gunnar Nelson suffered a first round KO against Santiago Ponzinibbio in the main event of UFC Glasgow. What looked to be a minor eye poke in real time later proved to be multiple fight altering eye pokes that appear to be deliberately delivered. Seen Here:
Not Deliberate in any way right? Of course not. The most concerning part about eye poking is obviously health concerns, it is illegal for a reason. But secondary to that is you gain significant advantage over your opponent when you damage their vision, even accidentally. If a fighter becomes very good at camouflaging intentional eye pokes as accidental byproducts of defense or offense it can be used as a tool to gain an edge on their opponent, in other words: cheating. The rules need to be changed to protect fighters from these actions, whether it turns into automatic point deductions or more rest time to recover. Masvidal’s argument on BJ Penn Radio was a compelling one:
“If you’ve ever been poked in the eye, man, it sucks,” he said. “It sucks in practice, and it sucks even more in the fight. Depending how hard you get poked, you can man up and keep going –I’ve done things like that – but your vision is off. One eye is swollen at the time. For some reason, you’re getting that blurred double vision, because one eye is at a different focus than the other eye that didn’t get poked. That takes time [to recover from]. That’s not like, oh a second later, because the doctor looked at it and you said you’re ok. We’re only saying we’re ok because we’re fighters.
“There needs to be a legitimate rule, if anybody touches the eye, well I should be able to get five to ten minutes,” he said. “The most important thing in the fight is vision. If I can’t see, well I’m going to get beat up, you know? It’s crazy. They need to do that. They need to stay on top of that. I don’t understand what the big nonsense is.
“It’s BS. When I fought Larkin, he gave me a pretty hard eye-poke. I had to stop. The doctor came in, and asked ‘can you see?’ [I said] ‘Yeah, I can see,’ but I really couldn’t see at that time that he asked me. I had a big blur in my vision. But of course if I say I can’t see, I’m not fighting. So, I can’t see, and the doctors were like ‘ok let’s go fight.’ What do you mean ‘let’s go fight?’ Give me my fucking time. It’s not like I poked myself in the eye. What’s fair is to let me heal up. Let me say when my eye is ready. But they don’t do that. I think I had about 15 seconds, something like that, 20 seconds.”
And there-in lies the problem. The victim of the eye poke is subject to fight at a disadvantage with no time to recover, while the offender gains an upper hand with no consequences. Cage Prophet agrees that the rules need to be adjusted to prevent eye poking. How about you?