Tonight was the night for cringe inducing injuries. Even before Jon Jones nearly ripped his own toe off, several fighters were on the end of vicious eye pokes, two of them fight ending. While it wasn't a major talking point of the press conference, it did come up. When asked if the UFC was considering changing the way MMA gloves were designed, Dana White had a response ready.
"Like what, put finger tips on them. I don't know. Let's say we had gloves with fingers on them, you could still poke people in the eyes with them. In boxing back in the 70's people used to get thumbed in the eye all the time."
While Dana is right here, he's missing the forest for the trees. Joe Rogan may go a little overboard with his whole "we need to totally redesign the way MMA gloves are built," rant, but the problems that it come from can't be ignored. Serious consideration needs to be taken to the way open handed "range finding" and swiping is penalized in MMA. If not an increased emphasis in referee training, then perhaps a second pair of eyes need to be added to watch just for eye pokes and swipes.
It's too common and too dangerous a foul to be chalked up to the "dangers of the sport" and if the UFC isn't taking an active interest in finding a real solution then they are ignoring a major issue in fighter safety. Eye pokes have become increasingly predictable, yet seldom are they called correctly, and unlike groin strikes, every referee appears to have their own set of rules as to how they should be dealt with. I'm not sure what the best solution is, but it's fool hardy to say it's exactly what we already have.