Daniel Cormier has both dished out and received some of the worst eye pokes in UFC history. It thus stands to reason that the former double champ would have more to say than most on the topic of eye pokes and how they might be avoided.
The current controversy surrounding UFC Vegas 21’s main event between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad has sparked that debates surrounding whether steps should be taken to avoid future repeats. In the fight, Belal Muhammad stepped into Edwards, as Edwards threw a body kick. However, Edwards also had his lead hand extended as he threw the kick. This led to Muhammad essentially stepping into an eye poke, that instantly had hi writhing about on the floor in agony.
One of the key changes that the MMA community are crying out for is that of some alteration for the current UFC gloves. Speaking on ESPN MMA’s DC & Helwani, Ariel Helwani put forward the concept of the UFC adopting Trevor Wittman’s Onx gloves, which are designed to curve the fingers, rather than let them naturally spread out. Daniel Cormier had the following to say on the topic:
“A lot of times when you do that, when you poke eyes, you’re trying to grab. And if your fingers aren’t allowed to open or straighten, then I think that you could eliminate some of the eye-poking. But the reality is, there’s going to be issues with the gloves being curved if we go forward.”
“My thing is this. You’re never going to find something that works perfectly. Your gonna find issues with everything. I don’t know what it’s going to take in order to stop eye pokes. I believe eye pokes will still happen. Maybe not as frequently, but I believe they’ll still happen… The eye pokes happen just about every fight. The big one that just happened with Belal, is probably – when was the last time a big one like that happened where it was so damaging?”
DC went on to discuss the advantages of having curved gloves, as well the harsh reality of the fight game. In that incidents such as eye pokes are simply an added risk to the sport of MMA.
“Having curved gloves will help. Because it does allow you to still lock your hands and wrestle. If your gloves are curved like this, you can still lock your hands with a grip. You can still grab. You can still do everything. It keeps the fingers from going straight.”
“Even when Jones would touch people in the eye. He wasn’t trying to, he’s just trying to manage distance right. And because he’s so long he put his arms out. This thing that they started implementing when you’re supposed to have your hand up, has helped. But the reality is, your in a fight. And sometimes those things happen. Unfortunate that it happens in those big spots.”
Cormier suffered a torn cornea at UFC 253, after being eye poked by Stipe Miocic. However, in their second fight, DC also tore Miocic’s retina with an equally illegal eye poke. Whilst Cormier’s comments that regardless of what changes are made there will always be issues my hold truth, it is undeniable that something has to change.