By Zach Arnold | August 2, 2011
I’m not here to debate the usage of Testosterone Replacement Therapy in MMA. My thoughts on the issue have long been loud & clear. However, for anyone in the media to ignore the issue of TRT after Dan Henderson’s over Fedor last Saturday night in Strikeforce would be a mistake.
- At the crossroads: TRT acceptance & women’s MMA in America
- A doctor’s skeptical opinion of TRT usage in fighting
Testerone Replacement Therapy doesn’t help you become an automatic winner. If there was a TRT MMA Hall of Fame for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Dan Henderson would be considered by many fans to be in the ‘good’ category. (Nate Marquardt & Chael Sonnen would respectively be in the ‘bad’ & ‘ugly’ categories.) Henderson is still a successful fighter at a high level in his 40s. That is an anomaly in the MMA business where plenty of young stars flame out in a few years and fans debate on just how long top MMA names/legends can last in the business (see: the 9-year rule).
When I use terms like ‘momentous’ or ‘momentum’ for TRT usage/acceptance in MMA, I’m not referring to the fans. I’m referring to administrators (regulars), fighters, & promoters.
- Keith Kizer: PA/NJ AC’s & UFC ’stood up in favor of a clean sport’ w/ Nate Marquardt
- Steve Cofield & Larry Pape: Is Nate Marquardt telling the truth about his medical interaction with the New Jersey ACB?
Whether you support the allowance of TRT by MMA fighters or not, the truth is that it has the capability of altering the MMA landscape in both good and bad ways. For fighters like Dan Henderson, TRT has a positive impact because it allows older fighters to not only hang around and not retire early but to also maintain physical strength that simply would not happen if someone was not on Testosterone. The longer someone is on TRT, the more experience they gain if they are able to fight more frequently. This will most certainly alter the way we look at veteran MMA fighters in the near future.
The bad, of course, is that testosterone is, well… testosterone and plenty of steroid users who have damaged their endocrine systems now see a very easy loophole to exploit in order to stick around a while longer as an active MMA fighter. TRT will also give some hope to fighters who should actually retire due to injuries, concussions/head trauma, and overall general body health. Fighting is still a young man’s game and older fighters accumulating brain injuries is not a good trend to see in this sport.
- Chael Sonnen — because I got punished for TRT, expect many fighters to hide their drug usage
- Victor Conte on a new drug testing option soon for UFC & boxing
TRT usage, just like steroid & other PED usage, does not guarantee victory for any fighter. What it does do, however, is leave the door open for some fighters who simply wouldn’t be around the business today to be active. Whether you think that’s a good or bad development, that’s up to you.
There seemingly is an increasing amount of momentum to go all-in for TRT acceptance. The landscape of the business as we know it is going to be altered in a significant manner. Dan Henderson’s victory over Fedor last Saturday was not only a victory for himself but a victory for proponents of TRT usage in the sport. For us in the media to ignore this big-picture development is rather short-sighted.
Earlier in this post, I wrote about brain trauma/concussions. Here’s Steve Cofield & Kevin Iole from Cagewriter.com/Yahoo Sports talking about why the referee stoppage in the Fedor/Henderson fight was appropriate & why Dana White celebrates Fedor losing.
STEVE COFIELD: “The fight itself, did you think the stoppage was warranted?”
KEVIN IOLE: “No question, 100%. Here’s the thing that I think people forget. You know, the argument that people are making in favor of allowing it to continue was that Fedor has great recuperative powers and in fights in the past he’s come back after being in a lot of trouble. The problem is that we’ve learned more about the brain and concussions and injuries in the last 10 years and so we understand that there’s something called the Second Impact Syndrome and it’s potentially fatal. It’s like your brain get wracked around inside your head the first time and if you take another big shot immediately after that, it potentially could be fatal and that’s what we don’t want in this sport. And I’m not saying that Fedor was on the verge of going but that’s what happens when you allow fights to go on. You know, he went limp and whenever a guy goes limp, he went face-first to the mat and he went limp, and Henderson undoubtedly woke him back up with one of the ground-and-pound shots that he hit him with. But you have to think of the fighter’s safety and you can’t say, well, because Fedor is a great fighter we’re going to allow him to take more shots because the fight’s more important. Safety is safety and when the fighter is out, the fight is over, period.”
STEVE COFIELD: “Where does Fedor go from here?”
KEVIN IOLE: “I tell you, if I’m advising Fedor and unless he’s really in financial difficulty, I say retire because, you know, he’s one of the great fighters in the early days of Mixed Martial Arts, clearly not at that point right now. If he’s in the Top 10, it’s right at the bottom of the Top 10 and I have to think after losing three in a row to three guys, none of whom would be in the Top 5 Heavyweights, I don’t think anybody would consider Werdum or Henderson or Bigfoot Silva Top 5, you know maybe Bigfoot Silva #5. You know, Fedor got beat pretty handily by all three of those guys, so where is he as a heavyweight right now? I just don’t see him beating the top guys. Are you just going to hang around to fight and collect paychecks?”
STEVE COFIELD: “How do you think [Dana White] feels in this whole thing? Yeah, I mean, is he really rooting against [Fedor]? Does this kind of go to the argument that he had the last couple of years and prove him right?”
KEVIN IOLE: “Dana just, I think, is very frustrated by people who will not give Anderson Silva credit. You know, he came out starting in probably 2008, 2007, 2008 saying Anderson Silva’s the best fighter in the world and he was looking at the guys Fedor was fighting at that time, the Mark Colemans and the Mark Hunts and those kinds of people and he’s comparing that to the people that Anderson Silva was fighting. I think tit’s interesting, Steve, that if you take 2001 through 2006 Fedor and then 2006 through 2011 Anderson Silva and there’s a lot of similarities. They both fought all the top contenders, they both beat them most of the time in dominating fashion. But, you know, Fedor is living off that 2001-2006 run until now and that’s bothering Dana who’s trying to promote the modern guys who are now fighting the elite guys and I think that’s where his frustration is from and he’s never shy about sharing his opinions, as we know.”