UFC commentator Joe Rogan had some interesting comments after the unfortunate eye poke that ended the Justin Wilcox vs. Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante fight at the Strikeforce “Overeem vs. Werdum” MMA event.
Eye pokes have always been an issue in MMA, given the open-finger gloves the fighters compete with. Rogan had an idea he felt could reduce the number of eye pokes in the sport.
“What I was thinking was a thin leather cover for the 4 fingers with some elastic on the sides so that it could spread out a bit to adjust grip,” Rogan stated. “I don’t think it would hinder grappling too much if done properly, and it might even help because it would provide traction when gripping that bare sweaty fingers wouldn’t”
As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, I couldn’t disagree more with Rogan’s idea to reduce eye pokes in MMA. Any attempt to cover fingers in MMA would clearly be to the disadvantage of grapplers who rely greatly on their grip during a fight.
Grappling with the gloves currently used in MMA is hard enough and I doubt fighters would approve of any such change. A better approach to handling eye pokes in MMA is to hold fighters accountable for their actions. Taking points or disqualifying fighters for repeated eye pokes is a better approach to the problem.
Disallowing open-handed strikes is also another option, but such a drastic measure isn’t yet needed at this point. Eye pokes only occur in a small percentage of MMA fights, and rules of the sport should only be changed after careful consideration.
One thing’s for sure, MMA fighters shouldn’t be allowed to use eye pokes or other illegal strikes as an excuse to leave an unfavorable fight early. I definitely prefer the no-contest awarded in the JZ vs. Wilcox fight, to giving fighters the win, simply because they have been hit by an illegal strike and are unable to continue.