Can UFC Fighters Wear Contacts?

Can UFC Fighters Wear Contacts?

UFC fighters can fight while wearing soft contact lenses, if the athletic commission does not have a rule prohibiting them.


When not wearing contact lenses, however, the fighter must meet the sports commission’s visual criteria. Let’s take a look at a few examples of when contact lenses would be permitted and prohibited in UFC fights.

Derek Brunson

Derek Brunson used to fight in contact lenses in his early MMA days. However, his vision problems interfered with a bout he had planned at one time in his career.

Derek Brunson previously competed for Strikeforce, which has since been purchased by the UFC. He was supposed to face Jacare Souza in early 2012 when he was in Strikeforce. However, Strikeforce authorities confirmed that Derek Brunson failed his pre-fight medical check before the fight could take place. Brunson was furious, assuming it was because of his contact lenses, and he took to Twitter stating, “Ok here’s the deal. I’ve been fighting with contacts for 11 fights … never was an issue. Ohio won’t pass my eye exam. … Stevie Wonder can play a piano blind & blind people can drive cars, but i can’t fight with contacts.”

Brunson’s reaction was intriguing, but it simply was not true. The State Athletic Commission of Ohio (where the bout was supposed to take place) allows boxers to compete while wearing contacts, but they must still meet the minimal vision criteria.

Bernie Profato was the Ohio Athletic Commission’s Executive Director at the time. Fighters are allowed to use contact lenses, according to Profato, but they must meet certain optical requirements so that the fighter can see even if the contacts are knocked out. Profato went on to assert that, “There’s nothing in our rules that says you can’t wear soft contacts, but if they come out, you can’t go look for them – it’s not like a basketball game where you go out there and look, and put the contact back in – you have to keep fighting without them.”

A fighter cannot compete if their “uncorrected visual acuity is less than 20/200 in either eye or 20/60 with both eyes,” according to the Ohio Commission’s eye exam form.

Perfect eyesight is 20/20, as you presumably well know. Derek Brunson had a score of 20/400. “The state of Ohio can’t let this person fight when it reads 20/400,” Profato said.

Brunson countered, “I’ve wrestled four years in college; I fought two amateur fights and nine pro fights, all with my contacts. I’ve got them knocked out a couple of times, and it never was an issue. I’m near-sighted. I can see close up fine. It’s just far away I can’t see. “ Brunson’s eyesight had worsened after his three previous fights, according to his ophthalmologist, thus this was his first time having difficulty.

Basically, the point of this story is that if Brunson’s eyesight had been at least 20/200, he would have been allowed to wear contacts during the event. You can wear contacts if your eyesight isn’t fantastic but you want 20/20 vision within the octagon. However, you must still adhere to the Athletic Commission’s requirements, as they are the ones who will ultimately decide whether or not to license you.

What About the UFC’s Current Fighters?

It’s difficult to say how many because there isn’t much data on current fighters who fight with contacts, but there are a few cases where current fighters have for sure fought with contacts in.


It should further be noted that the case involving Derek Brunson occurred while he was in Strikeforce, not the UFC. But, the UFC follows almost the same regulations as Strikeforce, therefore everything that has been said so far pertains to the UFC.

We know for sure that fighters can wear contacts in Ohio, despite the fact that none of the Athletic Commissions mention it in their medical standards. Furthermore, there is no prohibition against wearing contacts in the Unified Rules of MMA. In addition, we can confirm that at least one fighter has worn contacts within the Octagon.

A Lightweight bout between Thibault Gouti and Nasrat Haqparast was slated for UFC Fight Night 138 in Moncton, Canada. Gouti came to a halt near the end of round two, raised his palm to his eye, and glanced at the ref, almost as if he was complaining about an eye poke.

However, with only five seconds remaining in the round, the referee instructed them to continue. Gouti appeared to be seeking for something on the floor after the round concluded. One of the contest’s commentators, Dan Hardy, stated that Gouti’s contact lens had been knocked out of his eye and that he was searching for it. So Gouti’s fight served to prove that fighters can, in fact, wear contacts.

Final Thoughts

Contact lenses are permitted for UFC participants, under certain circumstances.

And professional fighters, including Lightweight Thibault Gouti, still wear them during fights. Fighters must, however, pass the State Athletic Commission’s visual requirements in order to be licensed to fight.