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Marc Ratner Calls For Changes To MMA Rules On Eye Pokes And Downed Opponents


In the wake of a number of sketchy referee’s decisions at UFC 159, UFC VP of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner will look to change the rulings on how eye pokes are dealt with. He will also look to review the rulings on ‘Downed opponents’ when he presents his case to the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) who are responsible for overseeing the unified rules in MMA.

Ratner will present his case before the commission this July, and I feel it couldn’t come soon enough. At UFC 159 we saw Gian Villante ruled out by referee Kevin Mulhall after an eye poke from OSP caused a moment of blurry vision for Villante. Check out what Villante had to say

“I couldn’t see for a second. I just blinked my eye to try to get some fluid back in there. I would have been fine 30 seconds later. I thought I had five minutes. All I needed was 10 seconds. But they ended it…I don’t know what was I supposed to say. And if I did know what to say, I’m in the middle of a fight. I’m not going to think, ‘What is the exact rule on what to say when you get poked in the eye?’ I’m going to say exactly how I feel. I can’t see for this second, but give me a second, and I’ll be all right.”

Now obviously there is a need for further regulation here, I felt that Villante was gaining momentum against a tiring St.Preux only to lose after an unintentional illegal blow by his opponent. So what is the solution? Well according to Ratner himself the solution is as simple as a medical opinion:

“What we want the referees to do is don’t make a medical decision. Call time. Don’t ask the kid if he can see or not. Bring the doctor in and let the doctor make the determination…Now obviously, if any fighter can’t see, you want the fight stopped. But here’s a case where if you go through the mechanic and bring the doctor in, it will give them a chance to see if in fact the eye clears up and he can fight…I think by bringing the doctor in, just the whole operation will take a couple of minutes, and I think that should alleviate most of the pain and give us enough time to make sure the guy can fight.”

I’m all for safety in a fight, but in this day and age can’t the UFC design a type of glove to enable grappling but eradicate eye pokes? Another fighter who fell victim to an eye poke at UFC 159 was Alan Belcher. He not only lost the fight, but his career may well be in jeapordy. I don’t feel like the solution is as simple as checking a guy over after the eye poke, the solution is the prevention of it even happening in the first place.

Ratner also made reference to the ‘three point stance rule’ which makes kneeing or kicking the head of a downed opponent illegal. The definition of downed in the unified rules means guys like Quinton Jackson, Jon Jones and many more are able to manipulate the rule. Check out Ratner’s position on the rule via MMAJunkie:

“We really believe this ‘three-point stance rule,’ where a fighter is just placing his hand on and off the mat so he won’t get hit, needs to be addressed. That’s not what the rule is for. That has to be looked at…If you’re going against the intent of the rule, and that’s what’s being done with some fighters, then we’ve got to change it.”

So some big changes possibly in the works for the unified rules of MMA. Will they be for the better though? Stay tuned to Lowkick!

  • Well, they can sh*t-can the three point rule immediately, but good luck stopping eye pokes. Not sure how a glove will be made to allow proper grappling and avoid eye pokes altogether.

    Time for PRIDE rules…..fighters are pacing themselves too much, too often with these 5 minute rounds.

    • ya man pride rules all the way, and I also dont see how they make a glove that magically eliminates eye pokes

    • maybe they should allow touching of private parts and kissing another person for sure their would be many fagggoootttts will join the ufc.

  • It neccessery mean that they will change gloves, they might give DQ or points for that.

  • eye pokes and nut shots should automatically result in point deduction. these are professionals and its their job to avoid these types of bugga-boo's.


  • I think unless nut shots are clearly intentional they shouldn't lose a point for the first one. Since it can also land there due to the opponent moving and things line up that way. Eye pokes should not be tolerated. Either DQ after the first one. Or any eye poke that ends the fight. The poker is the one that loses by TKO and not the pokee. I know Bruce Lee says in his book he would get maximum power by starting a punch with his hand open and it tightens into a fist at the end of the punch right before contact. But guys that don't have Bruce Lee precision shouldn't be trying that. It's ok to have the hand slightly open at the beginning of a punch. And it's ok to keep them very open when you are just holding your hands wherever you do in your fighting stance. However right after the punch starts traveling those fingers should be curled up enough to easily avoid direct stabbing motion pokes into your opponents eye. Sometimes when you see the slow motion it really looks intentional. But yeah, I'd rather they not change the gloves. Just give the fighters a reason to be careful. And don't further screw the guy that got his eye poked. If the fighter gets poked due to his own movement into an open hand, and not because the other fighter threw an open hand at him. Then that is a little different. But obvious cases of carelessness should only screw over the careless fighter.

  • Maybe add a rule about having fingernails trimmed short enough before fights and filed down by a professional so there are no sharp edges. That way they could at least eliminate the cutting action of the eyeball in the event of a poke. That's a rule that should have been in place a long time ago, and would have avoided a lot of injuries. Sure the eye pokes would still ****. And fighters may need a couple minutes to clear their eye and have the pain go away. But cutting and scratching the actual eye would be rare or nonexistent. And that is the part that usually makes a fighter unable to continue.

  • they don't need to change the gloves…they just have to wear protection goggles. serious!

    Also lets see some open weight grand prix 165-195???