Former UFC Champ Chris Weidman Criticizes ‘Soft’ MMA Fighters Over Eye Poke Reactions

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman has weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding eye pokes in MMA, claiming that fighters are getting “softer” in how they react to being accidentally poked in the eye.

Weidman’s comments come after high-profile incident in which Weidman basically dolled out multiple eyepokes to Bruno Silva, ultimately rendering him unable to continue.

“It’s like my kids who I coach in wrestling – you’re going to get poked in the eye sometimes. Things happen on the mat,” Weidman stated. “You can’t just drop to the ground and expect the ref to know what’s going on in your head.”

The former champion went on to criticize fighters who immediately signal for the fight to be stopped after an eye poke, saying it has become “a bad habit” that is detrimental to the sport.

“Any time his eyeball got touched at all, he dropped and was crying and needed time,” Weidman said, referring to Bruno Silva’s reaction, though not mentioning him by name. “I’m amazed top athletes get the ref’s attention that way.”

Weidman expressed concern that this trend of instantly stopping fights over eye pokes, even minor ones, sets “a bad precedent” for MMA going forward if it continues.

“I don’t want fighters getting poked in the eye, but I think like, let the ref know, drop it and then try and get it all the time? And you go to the replay and it’s like, did he even really get poked that bad?”

The eye poke issue has been an ongoing controversy in MMA, with debates over rule changes, new glove designs, and harsher foul penalties to disincentivize extended fingers potentially causing eye pokes. Weidman’s comments add a new viewpoint – that fighters simply need to have a higher tolerance for minor incidents like this.

Whether fans and officials agree with Weidman’s “toughen up” stance remains to be seen. But the eye poke issue doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon as a point of contention in MMA.

Considering MMA is not a particularly lucrative career for 99% of the roster, perhaps compromising your vision and the ability to work after isn’t so great.