Questions around Travis Browne eye poke controversy

UFC heavyweight Travis Browne secured a third round TKO victory last night over Matt Mitrione, however the result has been met with considerable backlash. On January 17 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, 33-year-old Browne transitioned to full mount in the final round to finish Mitrione via strikes with the referee stepping in. However, the bout’s earlier developments have provoked significant controversy with Mitrione having suffered two eye pokes at the hands of Browne, which are assumed to be unintentional. The contest was halted twice due to eye pokes from Browne as the 6’7″ contender reached out during the exchanges. Mitrione was cleared to continue, but Browne began to take full control of the striking and landed a powerful right hand in the third that saw Mitrione’s eye swell excessively. Browne took the fight to the ground soon after where he secured the stoppage. The fans in attendance were vocal in their disapproval and the post-fight debate has been heavily focused on the eye-poke controversy with criticism of referee Gary Forman’s decision to not deduct a point. This morning Mitrione took to social media to thank the UFC for taking care of him, but unfortunately confirmed that he had suffered a broken orbital bone in addition to a shoulder injury. The 37-year-old claimed that the eye pokes effected his performance but explained that “things happen”. Browne’s record advanced to 18-3-1 while Mitrione dropped to 9-5. Mitrione 2 Mitrione 3         The professional MMA glove design used by the UFC is approved by commissions. However, eye pokes (the vast majority being unintentional) can and do take place during the heat of action with a small number of fighters having earned a reputation for pokes due to their rangey style. In 2013 it was heavily reported that the UFC are looking at designs for new gloves in order to reduce eye pokes. In May of 2013 UFC President Dana White told ESPN, “We actually have started to work on a new glove that actually curves your hand. Like the glove is curved like a U, so you can still open your hand, but your fingers don’t point straight out.” However, a new design has not yet materialized. Is there a need for an updated glove design in professional MMA, or would stricter enforcement of point deductions and even disqualification be enough to make competitors rethink their approach? In the UFC Fight Night main event,  former bantamweight world champion Dominick Cruz completed his incredible return from injury to reclaim the UFC’s 135lb crown via a thrilling split-decision victory over T.J. Dillashaw. In the co-main event former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis also suffered a split decision loss against 155lb standout Eddie Alvarez who now has back-to-back UFC wins over top contenders Pettis, and Gilbert Melendez, following a competitive unanimous decision loss in his UFC debut against Donald Cerrone. Written by IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran        

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