UFC 252 is now in the books and if you believe the hype being weaved by UFC president Dana White, Stipe Miocic is now hands down no debate the greatest heavyweight of all time after defeating Daniel Cormier and winning their trilogy 2-1.
But the fight — while undeniably and entertaining and riveting affair — wasn’t without controversy. In the third round Miocic poked Cormier in the eye, badly. The ref missed it, but the cameras certainly didn’t. Take a look at the grisly moment where Stipe put a pretty hefty chunk of his finger in DC’s eye:
“They don’t know exactly the extent of the eye injury but I am being told there is a tear in his left eye so we wish him a speedy recovery,” Jon Anik reported during the UFC 252 post-fight show on ESPN+. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani later confirmed “DC” had suffered a torn cornea:
Daniel Cormier suffered a torn cornea last night, Cormier told me this morning. No timetable yet for recovery. Doctors said he won’t need surgery just yet but they have to monitor how it heals before knowing for sure. He was discharged from the hospital late Saturday night.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 16, 2020
After winning round 1 on many people’s scorecards, the fight wasn’t going Cormier’s way. The second saw him nearly finished in the final moments of the round, and then round 3 ended with an eye poke. Did that take away from the legitimacy of Miocic’s GHOAT win?
“Listen, you can’t look at the eye poke ... and uh, y’know take that away ... there were two eye pokes,” UFC president Dana White said at the UFC 252 post-fight press conference. “They both got poked in the eye. That eye was hurt before the poke. We got a big group text that goes out and I was like ‘There’s something wrong with Cormier’s eye.’ And then he got poked after that. That didn’t help. But they both got poked. You can’t use that as an excuse.”
“They both got poked,” he repeated later. “Sounds weird, but we know what we’re talking about.”
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, a clearly upset Daniel Cormier repeatedly brought up the eye poke which he said completely blinded him in his left eye ... but ended things with “It is what it is.”
As for Stipe, he’d probably feel worse about it if he hadn’t gotten repeatedly eye-poked in their second fight, to the point where it took long months before the damage healed enough for him to start training again.
“Yeah, I felt bad,” Miocic said at the post-fight press conference. “It wasn’t intentional. I told him 45 times during the fight that I was sorry, even during the fight I was like ‘Hey dude, I’m sorry.’ But what ya gonna do? He did it to me multiple times, but whatever. It wasn’t on purpose and mine wasn’t on purpose. I wasn’t planning on it. I also didn’t realize I poked him in the eye until I looked up and saw the replay and was like ‘Oh, I totally poked him in the eye, it’s my bad.’”
As Miocic said, it’s a poke and be poked world. “DC” seems to agree: it is what it is. Nothing much to be done about it now but use the eye poke as ammunition in future debates over the legitimacy of Stipe and DC’s places at the top of the heavyweight pile. Or (and this is crazy) maybe the UFC can finally fix their gloves so they don’t pull the hand open, possibly reducing the amount of eye pokes in competition?
@ufc changing the glove design to help curve the fingers inward slightly, would help decrease the amount of eye pokes and help keep the fighters safe.— Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) August 16, 2020
Just a thought.