Was an Eye Poke Behind Edson Barboza’s Quick KO Loss to Justin Gaethje?

Justin Gaethje dropped jaws throughout the MMA world on Saturday, by quickly putting away fellow lightweight contender, Edson Barboza. But, the latter’s team maintains an eye poke Barboza took, played a key role in his defeat.

Gaethje and Barboza exchanged some thumping leg kicks, before “The Highlight” rocked the vaunted striker with a punch. Moments later, as the two exchanged more shots, Gaethje finished the deal with a booming right.

Immediately after the fight, there wasn’t much talk about an eye poke being a contributing factor to Barboza’s defeat. But, as noted above, the Brazilian fighter’s team has presented some evidence that an eye poke did occur earlier in the battle.

Barboza’s manager, Alex Davis, posted this:

And Barboza’s coach, issued the comment and images below (translations via MMA Fighting):

“I really think this fight could have been one of the best fights of the year, Justin Gaethje is an excellent fighter and is definitely among the best in the world,” Franca wrote in Portuguese. “We have much respect for him and his team. I don’t know if the result would have been different or not, but we believe the fight would have been longer if not for this incident.”

So, yes, none of this means that Gaethje wouldn’t have won the fight. After all, we’re talking about one of the most dangerous and aggressive lightweights on the planet. But, you certainly have to wonder if the fight would have unfolded differently, or gone longer, if not for the accidental foul.

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