(I don’t see a downed opponent. I see a damn *fool*!)
It’s one of the strangest, most arbitrary double-standards of MMA’s Unified Rules — you get five minutes to recover from a strike to the groin, but if you can’t immediately continue after an eye-poke, the fight is over. Considering that the eyes are the balls of the face, it’s a shame that both sets of organs aren’t given equal protection under the law.
Gian Villante was the latest victim of the eye-poke technicality at UFC 159, when he lost a technical decision to Ovince St. Preux after getting gouged 33 seconds into the second round of their prelim scrap. As he explained afterwards, “I couldn’t see for a second. I just blinked my eye to try to get some fluid back in there. I would have been fine 30 seconds later. I thought I had five minutes. All I needed was 10 seconds. But they ended it…I don’t know what was I supposed to say. And if I did know what to say, I’m in the middle of a fight. I’m not going to think, ‘What is the exact rule on what to say when you get poked in the eye?’ I’m going to say exactly how I feel. I can’t see for this second, but give me a second, and I’ll be all right.”
Instead, referee Kevin Mulhall stopped the fight, and the judges scored the action up to that point, giving Villante a loss in his UFC debut. On the bright side, that disappointing moment might have been the last straw in the UFC’s tolerance for some of the sport’s most controversial rules. According to an MMAJunkie report, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner will make a formal request to change MMA’s eye-poke protocol at the Association of Boxing Commissions’ annual conference in late July. (The ABC is responsible for maintaining the Unified Rules of MMA, and providing uniform standards for MMA among the state and tribal athletic commissions.)
As Ratner puts it: