Tag Archives: fighting wth one eye

Q&A: One-eyed MMA

How would having one eye affect a trained combatant in what amounts to an MMA match?


It’ll kneecap their depth perception, limit their peripheral vision on that side, and if any harm comes to their remaining eye they’ll be blinded. The loss of peripheral vision is less important in MMA, though not entirely irrelevant. Getting accidentally poked in the good eye could take them out of a fight, but that’d be true if they still had both eyes. Remember, unlike live combat, getting injured in a sports bout means the fight is (probably) over.

The loss of depth perception is brutal. Combat relies on being able to connect with your foe. Being able to connect requires you to know exactly how far away they are. In situations where you’re already in direct contact with your opponent (ex: grappling and wrestling), the loss of an eye is a pretty minor consideration. In most situations, such as boxing, kicks, and other directed strikes, you need your eyes.

We’ve got an example here. UFC fighter, Michael Bisping took a blow to the head during a bout with Vitor Belfort in January 2013. The blow caused a corneal detachment in his right eye, ultimately leaving him blind in that eye.

Without shelling out to review Bisping’s fights, the overall pattern was an increase in defeats after the injury. His win rate was around 85% going into the match with Belfort, and by the time he retired in 2017, it had dropped to around 75%.

Can we attribute this to the eye injury? Well, no. At least, not confidently. Bisping was 34 when he fought Belfort, and was 38 when he retired. His last fight was with someone who was over 10 years his junior, and decided by a KO, 2m30s into the first round. I’m not going to blame him for walking away at that point.

I know we’ve said this before, but fighting takes a serious toll on the body, and Bisping’s record from 2013 to 2017 can easily be attributed to the fact that he was in his late 30s, and his body is wearing down.

I have a lot of respect for anyone who’s willing to keep fighting after suffering an injury like that. And he did keep going in the ring over the next four years.

(I have a lot less respect for the part where he didn’t see a doctor about the injury until after another fight three months later. I understand why he didn’t want to; he was afraid he’d never be allowed to fight again. But, it was a poor decision.)

He is also instructive as an example. Like I said, losing depth perception is a brutal disadvantage. Not an insurmountable one. You’ll have to work much harder to compete, but it is possible.

(Assuming you have two functioning eyes) Michi’s advice on writing one-eyed characters stands: Get an eyepatch. Live with it for a bit. No cheating. Go around with it. If anyone questions your choice in writing accessories, just be weirder than they can handle, and go on with your day. Get a feel for what it’s like to be missing an eye. Get an understanding of how this really limits you. Though, do remember to be careful.


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I have a character who grew up doing parkour and the like — they lost their left eye at seventeen. How would this affect their fighting skills — hand-to-hand and with a knife?

The problem here is a lack of depth perception. With one eye, it’s difficult to tell how far away something is whether that’s an incoming knife or the edge of a building. This could be very dangerous for them while just doing parkour really rely on being able to judge how far away something is. Even just a few centimeters could be the difference between a broken ankle, a broken arm, a broken leg or worse from a fall. There’s a good chance that when they lost their eye, they really lost the ability to do parkour the way they used to.

Parkour is not a fighting style. So, for an untrained fighter having lost an eye that could be really bad if the way they keep their skills sharp is through street fights. A fighter who trains regularly can adapt to it and may even be able to fight just as well as they used to in the long run, though their fighting style will have significantly changed in order to adapt to their injury. However, they’ll need time, a good work ethic, a solid instructor, and understanding training partners to help them get there.

Because of how fast knife fighting is and how quickly it ends, I can’t really answer that question. The lack of depth perception could lead to more mistakes and, when fighting with a knife, all you need is one to end your life. If they can’t tell how far away someone is then a miss could be fatal much in the same way it would be with parkour.

That’s all I’ve got.