Daniel Cormier Says ‘Eye Pokes Will Still Happen’ With New Gloves

Daniel Cormier

After the ending to last weekend’s card reignited the age old debate, Daniel Cormier has weighed in with his thoughts when it comes to MMA gloves.

UFC Vegas 21 came to an unsatisfying end when Leon Edwards poked Belal Muhammad in the eye while throwing a body kick in the main event. It was the second time in the fight Muhammad was the victim of an eye poke, and the damage caused left him unable to continue.

Since then, fans and fighters alike have engaged in the online debate about what to do with MMA gloves. The argument is that the current model used by the UFC allows fighters to open their hands completely, meaning fingers can be spread out which leads to eye pokes. Many people, including noted MMA coach Trevor Whittman, have thrown about ideas on how to improve the current model. Speaking on his DC & Helwani podcast, Cormier admitted that the design can be improved upon, but also said he believes there is no perfect solution (H/T MMA Fighting).

“A lot of times when you poke eyes, you are trying to grab,” Cormier said . “If your fingers aren’t allowed to open or straighten, I think that you could eliminate some of the eye poking but the reality is, there’s gonna be issues with the gloves being curved if we go forward. My thing is this, you’re never gonna find something that works perfectly. There’s gonna be issues with everything and I don’t know what it’s gonna take in order to stop eye poking. I believe eye pokes will still happen, maybe not as frequently but they will still happen.

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“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?”

Daniel Cormier has unwittingly become something of an expert on eye pokes himself. He’s twice fought Jon Jones, who has become notorious for leaving his fingers extended out, and was on the receiving end of an eye poke in the last fight of his career against Stipe Miocic. Still, Cormier believes that since eye pokes rarely result in fights being stopped, redesigning gloves in a way that could effect other aspects of MMA might not be the best solution.

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“Having curved gloves will help, because it does allow you to still lock your hands and wrestle,” Cormier said. “You can still grab, you can do everything, it keeps the fingers from going straight. Even when Jones would touch people in the eye, he wasn’t trying to. He was just trying to manage distance and because he’s so long, he’d put his arms out…

“I do believe that the rounded glove could help, so long as it’s not so rounded that it’s making it into a fist. You just don’t want it into a fist. You want to be able to maneuver and use your hands. So if it’s just a little curve, just to bend the front, okay, but not anything that makes your fingers kind of all the way go forward.”

For their part, the UFC and athletic commissions have added rules to try to limit the amount of eye pokes that occur. Referees are now allowed to warn fighters – and even take points – if they continuously leave their fingers extended. While the rule seems to make sense in theory, Cormier says there is no way to stop eye pokes from happening completely. According to him, it’s just part of the fight game that fighters will have to learn to overcome.

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“This thing that they started implementing, where you’re supposed to have your hand up, has helped, but the reality is, you’re in a fight,” Cormier said. “Sometimes those things happen. Unfortunate that it happens in those big spots. So yeah, I’m all for different designs on the gloves but I do believe that with the different designs, I don’t know what the issue will be but there will always be something. In a fist fight, it’s never perfect… There’s always gonna be issues but we should do whatever’s necessary to limit those things.”

Do you agree with Daniel Cormier that there is no way to eliminate eye pokes in MMA?