Can MMA Fighters Wear Contacts?


As a combat sport that involves grappling, ground fighting, and striking, MMA requires proper physical conditioning, high levels of concentration, a good strategy, and last but not least, good eyesight. But not all MMA fighters have eagle eyes, which leads to the question- can MMA fighters wear contacts?

Can MMA Fighters Wear Contacts?

MMA fighters with poor eyesight can wear contacts provided the relevant (state) athletic commission has no rule against the use of contacts. However, most state athletic commissions have vision requirements that all fighters must meet before being allowed to participate in matches.

If you’re still reading, chances are you want to know more about MMA rules regarding fighters with bad eyesight. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about fighting with poor eyesight and whether the MMA allows fighters to wear contacts and sports goggles.

Can MMA Fighters Wear Contacts?

MMA fighters can wear contacts during training and when fighting. The Unified Rules of MMA allow fighters with poor eyesight to fight professionally. However, most MMA organizations leave the setting of rules to relevant athletic commissions, which determine whether athletes can use contacts.

Most states allow for the use of soft contacts. But, for a contact-wearing athlete to compete in a professional fight, he or she must still meet the minimum set eyesight threshold. This is because similar to most combat sports, MMA is heavily reliant on a timer, and an athlete can’t stop the timer in case the contacts fall off upon impact. 

Therefore, athletes who opt to use contacts to improve eyesight must still have good enough eyesight to continue with the bout until the round ends.  

Is It Possible To Train MMA With Bad Eyesight?

It is possible to train MMA with bad eyesight. However, besides the risk of not getting approved by the relevant athletics commission in case of extremely bad eyesight, fighters with poor eyesight are often disadvantaged and less likely to compete effectively.

While contacts can help improve eyesight and thus boost your chances of competing in professional matches, they won’t be able to make significant improvements to your overall eyesight. This can prove problematic, especially in high stake matchups with little room for error.

MMA is not an ideal sport for people with extremely bad eyesight. An example is the highly publicized 2012 case involving Derek Brunson and the Ohio Athletic Commission, where the fighter was barred from fighting despite previously wearing contacts. 

According to the then-Executive Director of Ohio’s Athletic Commission, the issue was that Brunson’s eyesight had severely deteriorated from his previous bouts. 

Therefore, despite being disadvantaged due to poor eyesight, MMA fighters with eye issues are highly likely to worsen their eye problems, especially if they end up taking serious hits. This means that although contact-wearing athletes might receive the go-ahead to fight, they’re less likely to have lasting careers and may end up with lasting vision damage. 

Can You Wear Sports Goggles in MMA?

Sports goggles can be worn by MMA fighters during training. However, sports goggles aren’t allowed in professional matches. Instead, you can use quality sports goggles like the Pellor Sports Safety Goggles from Amazon.com when working on training routines that don’t involve grappling or striking.

However, although effective in improving vision during training, sports goggles cannot be used throughout all training sessions, more so when sparring, which is a huge part of MMA training. Therefore, if you must use sports goggles for MMA, then it’s wise to have contacts on standby as they can come in handy when working on grappling and striking techniques. 

Tips for MMA Fighters With Bad Eyesight

Having bad eyesight shouldn’t stop you from enjoying an amateur or professional MMA career. Although poor eyesight can leave you disadvantaged when fighting an opponent with eagle eyes, you can still work on your weakness and improve your attacks by observing the following tips. 

Train With Punching Bags

Despite its reputation as a high-energy combat sport, MMA is also a game of strategy and execution. The best way to reduce the impact of your poor eyesight is by working on your movements and reactions. The trick is to remove your glasses and train the way you would enter the ring. 

Practicing with both speed and heavy bags will allow you to adapt to throws and work on your reactions. And while this approach might prove difficult at first, you’ll get the hang of it if you remain consistent in your training. 

Consider investing in high-quality punching bags like the Outslayer Filled Punching Bag (available on Amazon.com) when training heavy. The Hunter Speed Striking Bag from Amazon.com is also a great option when speed training, more so when working on rebounds and reactions. 

Embrace Shadowboxing

While shadowboxing might come off as a pretty straightforward technique, it can help you work on your movements. This is because shadowboxing improves your muscle memory, allowing you to understand how to stand, throw punches and react to potential attacks. 

When shadowboxing, it’s crucial to remove your glasses and train exactly how you’ll fight in the octagon. Try to work on your concentration, paying close attention to how you breathe, stand and throw punches. The more you shadowbox, the more likely you are to improve muscle memory, which can make a huge difference in a real match setup. 

Work With a Partner Who Understands Your Weakness

Although all MMA fighters need sparring partners for effective training, fighters with poor eyesight should prioritize working with skilled partners more than other training regimens. A training partner will allow you to recreate a real match environment, ensuring you work on your reflexes and movements. 

Work with a partner who understands your weakness and pushes your poor eyesight to a healthy limit. This will allow you to know your limits, especially when sparring, as you’ll improve your senses and reactions over time. 

Use Techniques That Suit Your Compromised Eyesight

Poor eyesight shouldn’t be a massive disadvantage if you play your cards well. Most athletes with bad eyesight recommend fighting close to opponents to avoid abrupt attacks. Getting close to opponents gives you the chance to soak up kicks and punches, which can make a huge difference when attacking and defending. 

You can also work on your ground game as it’ll give you more control when fighting. Ground and pound is an effective way to avoid haymakers and wild punches that can catch you off guard when fighting in standing positions. 

Wrapping Up

Fighting with bad eyesight can leave you severely disadvantaged, especially when pitted against opponents with good vision. The good news is you can wear contacts if relevant athletic committees permit. 

Although contacts can improve your vision, they won’t make your eyesight perfect, hence the need to practice your movements, reactions, and anticipations by working with a skilled enough sparring partner.

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