Joe Rogan lamented once again last night about the problems the fingerless glove design in MMA can cause, when two fights on the UFC on Fox prelims suffered from eye pokes. Rogan rightly commented on the technique of a fighter being a core contributor to the foul in the Rafael Natal vs Sean Spencer fight, but solely blamed the gloves and not the fighter when Shawn Jordan fouled Mike Russow.
In neither fight were any points deducted, and in both fights the victim of the eye poke ended up losing through finishes. Shawn Jordan handily lost the first round of his fight to Mike Russow, as Russow used boxing basics to wobble Jordan on more than one occasion as well as open up a cut above his right eye. Russow's wrestling as well combined to dominate the first round.
Jordan turned the fight around and changed the momentum in the second round when what appeared to be a thumb struck Russow in his right eye. The replay made it look deliberate, and yet neither Joe Rogan or Mike Goldberg noticed or decided to call it.
After a brief pause in action, the momentum clearly changed in favour of Jordan leading to an eventual finish for the former football player. Rogan dismissed Jordan's change in fortune to that of Russow possibly gassing in the first round, and nothing more was said about Russow's eye.
Fighters are rightly given the benefit of the doubt when a foul lands, and it is unfair to accuse them of cheating and malice without proof, but I would urge everyone who can to watch the overhead slow motion replay UFC broadcast last night during this fight and decide for yourself.
Eye pokes or gouges, deliberate or accidental, must be taken more seriously then they currently are in MMA. Rogan himself said it should be considered a foul, and I think it should come with a hefty 2 point deduction to significantly reduce their prevalence in the sport. A 2 point deduction wouldn't have helped Mike Russow last night, but I think it is worth him filing a complaint even if a change in official outcome is completely unlikely.
When I previously wrote on the matter of eye pokes, I cited Neil Melanson in a radio interview he took part in last year, saying he has heard unnamed fighters from unnamed camps admit upfront if they're losing a fight they will attack the eye to gain an advantage, knowing they won't be penalised the majority of the time when it only happens the once in a match. This is unacceptable behaviour that only exists because referees have allowed it to. Fighters who become known for poking the eye in their fights need to be disqualified.
A shot to the groin is bad, and so is a genuine shot to the back of the head, and sometimes when a shot occurs to the head of a 'downed' opponent. Injuries from these, though, more often than not heal.
Eye injuries can be career ending and life altering, and there isn't a cure for blindness. Let's see an end to these fouls now.