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Joe Rogan bashes Li Jingliang, says eye gouge at UFC 221 was ‘straight up cheating’

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Jingliang vs Ottow David McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports

Chinese fighter Li Jingliang did one of the dirtiest moves you could ever do earlier this month at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia, when he intentionally eye gouged welterweight opponent Jake Matthews to escape a tight guillotine submission attempt.

Not only did the referee not catch the egregious foul, but Jingliang was awarded $50,000 for a Fight of the Night performance in his eventual loss to Matthews via decision.

As many figures around the mixed martial arts (MMA) community have already stated, “The Leech” should have been deducted a point, if not entirely disqualified, for sticking his fingers in the eye of Matthews. Adding to the outcry is none other than UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, who was not in attendance to witness the penalty first hand but still feels strongly about the lack of punishment.

“I thought it was f*cking bullsh*t,” Rogan said during a recent edition of the JRE MMA Show (transcription via MMAJunkie). “You can’t let a guy get away with that, or he’s going to do it again. … You don’t do it that way. You tap. It’s straight up cheating; it’s not just shady. It’s cheating.

“They should tell him, ‘If this ever happens again, if you ever think you’re going to do this again, we’re going to kick you out of the league.’ You can’t do that. You can’t gouge someone’s eye when they’re choking you.”

Matthews, who was forced to let go of the submission attempt to avoid injury to his left eye, insisted that he doesn’t fault Jingliang for doing what he did in the heat of the moment. Still, eye gouging is just about as dangerous as a foul can get, especially when it goes unnoticed and unpunished.

“It felt like the fingers were in long enough for him to know the fingers were in there,” Rogan said. “The referee f*cked up. The UFC should do something. Someone should do something. Maybe, even in Nevada? You’ve got to look at that and go, ‘Hey man, you can’t ever do this again. And we have to fine you. You should be suspended, and if you ever do this again, you’re out.’ You can’t gouge someone’s eyes. They’ll lose their vision. We can’t have any leniency whatsoever toward intentional eye-gouging. Zero.”

“Every time an eye-poke happens, whether it’s intentional or not, take a point away,” Rogan continued. “I think it’s a good move. Eye-gouges like that, I think is grounds for disqualification. You can’t allow any room for that. Guys are going to get blind. It could happen. Most guys are completely ethical and would never think of doing this.”

Assuming the promotion has taken notice of the backlash around the MMA community, it will be interesting to see what happens the next time a fighter purposely sticks his/her fingers in the eye of an opponent, especially when trying to escape a fight-ending position.