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!