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.
They're not just drama queens (I don't doubt that there are some who exaggerate to get that little extra rest). You see it in the cases when the referee doesn't stop that they are handicapped for a while.
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 actually know that a groin shot which didn't properly land may start to hurt only after the adrenaline goes down after a situation on the street. And a good friend's acquaintance told that he thought only to have been punched in the torso when he woke up from coma after having got stabbed. Another one I know of just felt it getting warm around the area of his kidneys (due to his blood), before passing out.
BUT groin shots and knife stabs are a different thing than eye pokes. With the eye it's not necessarily so much about pain, it's more about uncontrollable reaction. You just can't control the tears to start to run and thereby obscuring your vision and you barely can't control your eyes from squinting, because that's just an automatic reaction.
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.
Yes. As I've written it's not the ultimate finishing technique (magic button), but a solid set up (due to distraction) for following techniques. So we are more or less on the same track here.