Just a little comment on that one. Yes, eyes are pretty durable due to their spherical nature, but have you ever accidentally poked yourself in the eye¿ Usually tears instantly start to shoot, vision gets obscured and you will squint your eyes. And that's what the good old poke-in-the-eye is for. It's not the ultimate finishing technique, but a solid set up for following techniques.
You see that also in MMA fights when someone accidentally gets a finger in his eye. Even though the fighters are fully adrenalised, they usually have to stop the fight for several seconds.
They're just being drama queens. When you have the option to take a second to rest, why not take it? When you don't have the option, you just man-up and deal with it. While self defense isn't my main goal, I keep it in mind during my training and when I get fouled it's very rare that I won't finish the round before complaining about it. In a scenario where my adrenaline is pumping even harder, I doubt I'll even notice. And I don't think I'm different from most other fighters in that regard.
On a sidenote, how many times have you read about guys getting hit in the nuts or stabbed and not even noticing until after the altercation was long over? And I'm talking about normal people here, not trained fighters.
I don't doubt that an eye poke could pay dividends as a distraction, but I maintain my stance that it's not a magic button.
The problem you two have in your debate is your one-dimensional comparison of an MMA fight and a self defense situation. They are not that easily compared, because while MMA fights always have (more or less) the same frameset (two fighters, same weightclass, ring/octagon, time limit, same rules), self defense situations on the other hand may differ strongly from each other (1 up to n opponents, no rules, possible weapons, often unknown area, etc.). Pure hand to hand combat in self defense training is NOT to keep it hand to hand, but to bridge the time you need to either find the gap to run away and/or to find an "equalizer" (weapon). It's not so much the physical abilities that give the "survivalist" an advantage in a self defense situation, but his mindest and knowledge on how to use the environment.
That's actually what I was trying to get at, though, I didn't do a very good job expressing this thought. Again, I strongly believe that the competitor will always be the better FIGHTER, but the survivalist is the better, well, survivor.