Matt Brown blames UFC gloves, not Chris Weidman for eye-poke controversy: ‘When are we going to fix these goddamn gloves?’

When replays showed that eye pokes from Chris Weidman — and not a punch — led to his finish of Bruno Silva at UFC Atlantic City, Matt Brown threw up his hands in disgust.

It wasn’t because the fouls were egregious or that Weidman purposefully attempted to cheat to secure the victory. Instead, it was because veteran UFC welterweight Brown knew that one of the most common problems to continuously plague the promotion he’s called home for nearly 18 years still exists with no signs that it will ever get fixed.

“Every [fighter] I guarantee was sitting there watching that saying the same s***, when are we going to fix these goddamn gloves?” Brown said on the latest episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer. “How many eye pokes are we going to have to see before we f****** fix these gloves?”

Brown said the standard UFC glove effectively forces fighters to have their fingers extended, and it takes effort and force to close the hand into a fist. It’s a natural instinct to gauge distance and put your hand out during a fight, which often leads to exchanges where an eye poke occurs.

Brown revealed he’s actually had his coaches essentially warm-up his gloves throughout his UFC career before he puts them on just so the material isn’t as rigid and he can form a fist more easily.

“What I think a lot of people don’t realize, it’s hard to make a fist with the glove they have,” Brown explained. “When we’re in the back warming up, we start stretching out the gloves before we put them on. That’s what our corners are doing in the back for a good 30 minutes. They’re stretching, pulling, twisting, manipulating these gloves any way they can so it’s easier to make a fist. Because they keep your fingers straight, and to actually make a fist requires some energy.

“That’s the most ridiculous thing ever. Like, can we not fix this? This isn’t even a complicated problem. Make it easy to make a fist. If you should have to force anything, it should be to force your hand open.”

Following his win, Weidman actually put the onus back on Silva for his reaction to the eye pokes. The Brazilian immediately fell to the ground and covered his head, which led to a flurry of punches before the fight was ultimately stopped.

Brown understands why Weidman said what he said, but he also sympathizes with Silva reacting the way he did, especially when replays showed Weidman had fingers raked across both eyes prior to the finishing sequence.

“What’s Chris Weidman supposed to say?” Brown said. “Is he supposed to say, ‘I didn’t earn that victory.’ Fair game to him, but you can’t hate on Bruno Silva for doing exactly what he did. I don’t care how tough you are.

“There’s a reason why that’s the first move in self-defense classes that doesn’t work — poke the eyes! It’s like the weakest part of your body, that and the nuts. Kick them in the nuts, poke them in the eye — you’re a Krav Maga black belt if you can do those two things. But there’s a reason! It f****** hurts and it sucks. What are you supposed to do? Stand there with no eyes and let Chris Weidman knock you out? You’re defenseless now. You don’t have eyes.”

The fight was initially declared a TKO win for Weidman, but that was changed moments later to a technical decision victory once cageside officials opted to use the scorecards due to the strange ending following the eye pokes.

That didn’t make much sense to Brown, especially considering the fouls directly led to the conclusion of the fight, and none of that was Silva’s fault.

“No one wants to see a victory that way,” Brown said. “It shouldn’t have been a victory. It should have been a no-contest. I don’t think anybody’s going to disagree on that.

“Let them run it back in a couple of weeks or a couple months and let them do it again. Just terrible reffing all night, I felt like. I think everybody felt like [that], just one mistake after another. Just terrible reffing. I respect the ref job, how hard it is and everything, but my God, just nothing seemed to go right for the refs.”

Moving forward, Brown knows the solution isn’t actually all that hard, but for whatever reason, the UFC hasn’t opted to change the construction of the gloves its fighters use.

Ideally, Brown said there are plenty of examples of gloves from other organizations that already dealt with this problem, but the UFC just refuses to address it.

“The PRIDE glove went all the down [the finger] and it was already curved,” Brown said. “It had a natural curve to it. You had to force your hand out. It wasn’t a hard force, like you didn’t have to flex hard to open your hand, but if you just completely relaxed your hand, your hand was basically in a fist. I just, for the life of me, this hasn’t been fixed.”

Eye pokes seem to happen at least once during every event and more than a few fights have actually been stopped due to the brutal nature of the injury. That problem will undoubtedly persist, but Brown knows there’s an answer if the UFC finally just addresses it.

“It’s insane to me,” Brown said. “It has blown my mind forever that this wasn’t fixed a long time ago — with all of the technology, improvements, and money and everything that they have, and this is the last priority on the list.

“How many eye pokes are we going to have to see before someone steps up and says, ‘This is a problem, let’s do something about it?’”

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