During the UFC 152 flyweight title bout between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, there was a moment where Benavidez reacted as though he had been poked in the eye. Referee Yves Lavigne told Benavidez to continue and said that he didn't see an eye poke.
MMA Junkie's Ben Fowlkes took a shot at Yves on Twitter saying "If a tree falls in the forest and Yves Lavigne doesn't hear it, does it really make a sound?" To which Yves responded, asking if Fowlkes was certain there was an eye poke or if it was just a shot to discredit him.
It may not be the objective to discredit me but at the end of the day it does
When I make a call I have to be 100% certain because it affects the out come of the fight
I do not have the latitude to guess
The amazing thing here is whit the technology at your disposition, pause, re-wind, slow motion, re-watch as much as you want, you came to the same conclusion as me that made the call on a slip second
That something touch the eye of Mr Benavidez, but it was not clear enough that it was a finger or the glove of Mr Johnson.
Sorry but I was just expecting more from a well-known columnist that all
Yves is, of course, correct here.
A referee has to see a foul to call a foul. He can't give fighters a break for low blows or eye pokes they are calling themselves if he doesn't see it. I think there was an eye poke, but at real speed with only your actual angle to go by, it's just not possible to see everything all the time and some fouls will get missed.
Joe Rogan suggested on commentary that this is where instant replay is needed. His point was something along the likes of if a fighter says he was poked in the eye and the ref didn't see it, they should check the tape while allowing him to recover and if there was no eye poke, he should be deducted a point.
That's great until you start thinking about guys getting hit in the eye with a knuckle or the corner of a glove. If a fighter is knuckled in the eye but thinks he was fingered and wants a chance to recover, should he be at risk of losing a point when it's determined that it wasn't an illegal blow? He didn't know better, he just felt something enter his eye.
If you then say that he shouldn't be penalized if there's proof that something hit his eye but it wasn't a finger, well, then you just took the advantage away from the fighter who threw, and landed, a legal blow that had affected his opponent's vision. Now the defensive fighter has been given an opportunity to recover.
Should the fight be called off and the strike thrower be awarded a TKO? Why would you ever indicate to the ref that you think you were poked in the eye if you know that you could honestly be wrong but now lose by DQ when you may have been able to just circle out of trouble and recover?
It's all well and good to suggest that replay is the cure in a situation like this, but things are obviously much more complex than taken into account by those who make those kinds of statements.