In a recent interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, Belal Muhammad reflected on the Leon Edwards fight and shared the thoughts that went through his mind after an accidental foul from his opponent called for a pause in the action.
"I don't even train with anybody who literally puts the fingers at your face... It's so dangerous... I don't care about a broken hand or a broken foot or something like that. But losing vision is the scariest of all those things like it happened for me. Just because I have experienced something like that where an eye poked has gone bad and I am like, you think about those things in that moment and I literally thought I was blind. So I am sitting there... My eye, I was moving it around and I couldn't see nothing and I am like 'dude, Am I blind? Please don't tell me I'm blind right now," Belal Muhammad said.
Belal Muhammad was up against the biggest challenge of his fighting career when he fought No. 3 ranked Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC Fight Night 187. But the fight ended in a no-contest after an accidental eye poke from Edwards severely compromised Muhammad's vision and rendered him unable to compete. The fight lasted less than two rounds, depriving Muhammad of his breakout performance against a top-ranked contender.
Belal Muhammad's fight is the latest episode in the series of controversies surrounding eye pokes in MMA
Belal Muhammad's eye injury is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding eye pokes. Among the various illegitimate moves in MMA, an eye poke stands out as the single move that is most capable of changing the course of fights and they are one of the most serious concerns involving fighters' safety. Unlike limb or joint injuries that can take a significant toll on an athlete's competitive abilities, the impact of eye injuries extends beyond fighting and can hamper an individual's ability to live a normal life.
Many high-profile UFC fights have had their outcomes affected due to eye pokes in the past. Experts have proposed solutions like immediate point deduction and improved glove designs to deter fighters from extending their fingers out, but a concrete solution is yet to be implemented to reduce the instances of eye pokes in MMA.