Mitrione feels referee, doctors should have saved him from himself after eye pokes from Browne at UFC Fight Night 81

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

In the middle of that fight, after the first eye poke, I was fighting with one eye closed just so I could see one Travis. That’s not a safe way to fight at the highest level in the world against people that are [skilled in] takedowns, kicks, punches, everything in the world. So I feel like, once that was seen and I had my eye closed for however long it was closed, like a minute or something like that…that should have been a sign to the doctors and for the referee to be like, ‘hold on, dude’s closing his eye because he can’t focus, we need to call this a no contest. We need to save him from himself, and step in and do something about this.’ Because I’m not going to do that, because I’m too grindy and gritty and I want my paycheck. But it’s not a safe way for the sport to evolve. I’m not going to blow the whistle on myself, and removed that chance of getting the other half of my money… That’s the thing man, it shouldn’t be up to me, the guy who lives his life to compete to make a decision.

It should be up to the commission, the doctors and the referee to realize the dude is fighting with one eye closed, and he’s complaining about seeing double. In that situation, you have to protect me from myself. You have to. That’s your job. That’s what the commission and the doctors are there for, and the referee. That’s what he’s there for. Otherwise it’s a fair fight and they don’t need anybody else. But when something comes into the mix, that is a curve ball, a variable that wasn’t expected, and there’s an injury to a fighter…well of course, dude, that’s my money. Of course I’m going to go out and do everything I can to get my money.

-Matt Mitrione talks to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and why he feels his bout with Travis Browne should have been stopped off the eye pokes even as he tried to continue.

Penick’s Analysis: It’s refreshing to hear directly from a fighter an argument that’s been made time and again by outside pundits, but it’s the truth. The referees and doctors have a job to ensure the safety of the competitors, and to save them from themselves when they’re too stubborn to go away. Eye pokes aren’t always at the forefront on this, and indeed it’s more appropriate when fighters are taking ridiculous amounts of punishment but won’t go away. Still, it’s apt here as well, and his comments regarding fighting for the win bonus highlight even further one of the issues with not punishing eye pokes. Because Browne wasn’t going to face any point deductions or disqualification from the eye pokes, he effectively got an edge to get his win bonus while Mitrione continued impaired in a desperate attempt to get his. There’s something just very wrong with that, and if eye pokes led to disqualifications – as they should – the situation would have rightfully been reversed.

[Photo (c) Bob DeCharia via USA Today Sports]

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