Eye Pokes & Embarrassment

Posted on November 24, 2010


Last Friday, Strikeforce held one of its “Challengers Series” shows that was understandably swallowed up by the coverage for UFC 123’s stacked card.

For those who don’t know, controversy erupted when the fight between Marius Zaromskis and Wachiim Spiritwolf was declared a no-contest just six seconds into the fight due to an accidental eye poke delivered by Zaromskis, the DREAM Welterweight Champion, while trying to execute a flying knee.

That’s about when Mauro Ranallo completely lost his cool in the broadcast booth.

He started ranting about the referee giving Spiritwolf five minutes to recover from the eye poke. Ranallo explained with a heated cadence and frantic delivery that a referee can give five minutes to recover from a groin injury and a groin injury ONLY.

Embarrassingly, Strikeforce Rules Director Cory Schafer came out to explain to Mauro that no, he was wrong. He did so with a combination of incredulousness at Mauro’s outrage and more than a bit of attitude due to Mauro’s initial insistence. Note – it’s my understanding that the reason Strikeforce has a Rules Director when the Rules are actually set by Athletic Commissions is because it specifically asks commissions to prohibit any and all elbows to the head while both fighters are on the ground.

In an interview with MMA Fighting’s Michael David Smith, Schafer explained that no, you do not get five minutes to recover only if it’s a groin injury, and discusses why he thinks there’s confusion over the rule.

“I don’t know. Part of it could be that the rule is different on groin strikes. At the end of the five minutes, the fighter must continue. He doesn’t have the option of saying “I can’t continue” and then the fight goes to the scorecards. If you get a groin strike, after five minutes, you have to continue or it’s a TKO, unless the referee rules it a disqualification. But it’s a good rule to give a guy five minutes to clear his eye, if he can.”

Let me get this out of the way: I like Mauro Ranallo, and always have. I cringe when he does the sexist jokes and bad puns not just based on taste, but because I know from following him through his years in Pride to the present day that he’s so much better than that.

That said, he should know better. He should know better than to get as worked up as he does, particularly when he’s supposed to be in the role of play by play and he has a guy like Pat Miletich next to him to explain the rules.

He should also know that groin strikes are NOT the only time a fighter is given five minutes to recover. Because he’s been there when it’s happened, most notably in the first EliteXC main event between Frank Shamrock and Renzo Gracie.

The bigger question than all this, though: why is Strikeforce giving a guy with an 8-7 record a title shot in the first place?

This promotion continues to confound me.