With so many blows to the face, it’s understandable that many MMA fights have compromised vision. It is up to the fighter’s discretion if they want to wear their contact lenses in a fight, but many of them opt not to.
The downside to wearing contacts during a fight is that if they fall out or become lodged in your eye, there’s no pausing the clock to retrieve or adjust them. You have to keep fighting.
Can You Do MMA With Bad Eyesight?
MMA involves a great deal of accuracy, and a big part of hand-eye coordination is, of course, the eyes. Depending on where you’re fighting, the jurisdiction may have a minimum requirement for the quality of a fighter’s vision.
However, many MMA fighters have somewhat impaired vision. This comes with the territory of taking blows to the face, if the fighter didn’t enter the sport already visually impaired.
If your eyesight isn’t ideal, you can practice MMA by either wearing contacts, or keeping your opponent close to you as best you can. There are some training techniques that can be used to compensate for poor eyesight.
Can UFC Fighters Fight With Contacts?
While there are minimum requirements for a fighter’s quality of vision, contacts are allowed when fighting in the UFC.
This is good news for fighters who worry that their visual impairment, whether far-sightedness or near-sightedness, but there are risks to wearing contacts in the octagon.
If you lose a contact lens during a fight, it’s gone. There’s no stopping the clock to retrieve it. The same applies if you take a blow to the face and a contact lens gets lodged behind your eyeball. Since it’s the fighter’s choice whether to wear their contacts to the fight, those consequences would be their responsibility to handle.
Many fighters will utilise different training techniques to compensate for less-than-perfect eyesight, so they can elect to not wear their contacts during their fight.
Can You Fight Wearing Glasses?
Regular glasses are forbidden from being worn in MMA, whether amateur or professional. Given the severity of injuries to the face and ocular areas on a regular basis, it would not be a good practice to allow glass into that mix.
Sport goggles have been developed for use in other sports, but there has yet to be a version that can be adapted well into the professional fighting world.
Eye injuries are very common in these fights already, which is one reason for why doctors are always on hand during fights. Glasses would complicate injury assessment.
What MMA Fighters Wear Contacts?
While there are no actual statistics for what fighters wear contacts, there have been a few instances where contact lenses have been an issue for fighters.
In 2012, Derek Brunson was scheduled for a fight in Ohio, but was told he couldn’t fight there that night.
While he initially reacted thinking that the reason was because of his contact lenses, in actual fact it was Ohio’s state regulations about a fighter’s minimum vision requirements that prevented him from fighting then. These regulations vary state-to-state, but exist for the possibility of the fighter losing their contacts and “fighting blind”.
After this incident, he eventually got Lasik eye surgery.
Thibault Gouti is another fighter known to wear lenses in the octagon. At UFC Fight Night 138 he raised his hand to his eye at the end of round two, and some thought it was due to an eye poke. The fight continued, and later it was revealed that Gouti had lost his contact lens. However, as noted, that is not grounds to pause the clock.
You can fight MMA wearing contact lenses, if your vision is bad then you are probably best wearing them whilst fighting so you can dodge attacks effectively. However if you can see fairly well without them then you might want to try fighting without them as they can get dislodged in the eye whilst fighting.