After a pay-per-view event marred by eye-pokes, the UFC is tackling the design of its gloves.
“We actually have started to work on a new glove that actually curves your hand,” UFC President Dana White said Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN 710-AM in Los Angeles. “Like the glove is curved like a ‘U,’ so you can still open your hand, but your fingers don’t point straight out.”
Late this past month at UFC 159 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., two fights were stopped as the result of accidental eye-pokes, including a co-main event between middleweights Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher. The fight went to the scorecards after Bisping poked Belcher’s eye in the third round, causing it to bleed.
That’s on top of dozens of high-profile bouts that have seen one or more competitors suffer the accidental foul.
Following the April 27 event, White expressed reservations about taking action, saying that the promotion’s current gloves, which are made by a company called Century, already are approved by state athletic commissions.
“Let’s say you had gloves with fingers on them, you could still poke people in the eye with them,” he said. “With a boxing glove, they used to have problems back in the 70's and maybe early 80's with guys getting thumbed in the eye. Those old Everlast gloves used to look like a lobster claw, and guys used to get thumbed all the time, then they made the attached thumb to it. I just don’t know how you would do it in MMA with the grappling.”
While he’s looking into the answer to that question, White believes the best way to avoid the issue is to get fighters to modify their style.
“Guys need to keep their damn hands closed,” he said. “You can’t reach out toward the face with the hands open in a fight. You can’t do it.”
A UFC official said the project was still in “early stages” and couldn’t provide further details on the new glove or when it might be put into use.
Provided the new equipment doesn’t impede fighter’s striking or grappling, it could come as welcome news to those who’ve been injured by an errant finger during a bout.
(Pictured: Alan Belcher)