By Zach Arnold | February 10, 2012
This bomb went off on Twitter earlier tonight:
@DiazBrothers209 “(Carlos) Condit accepts rematch after he was notified by @danawhite @ufc about (marijuana) test result. Never intended to rematch.”
In other words, the Diaz camps says that Condit & Malki Kawa were fronting about a rematch in order to make Nick Diaz look bad…
Side note: ESPN aired a new ad spot for the upcoming UFC Undisputed 3 video game. The pitch if you buy now?
“Receive the contender’s pack featuring Nick Diaz”
John Joe Regan of Fighter’s Only dropped this item about Eddie’s aspirations to head to the UFC. He’s supposed to fight Shinya Aoki and I thought we would end up seeing a rematch between Eddie and Michael Chandler… I guess it’s not meant to be?
The bigger, and more appropriate, debate tonight that broke out on Twitter in response to this story is whether or not Spike TV will pull the plug on Bellator’s tournament format, the champion’s clause, or how they will modify & codify the booking to make sure that fighters don’t revolt to UFC en masse.
It was not a good political idea to want to put Eddie Alvarez into a tournament after he lost his title to Mr. Chandler…
Shogun bluntly speaks on UFC’s policy about agents
For better or for worse, Mauricio Shogun spoke out about why he left his manager (the well-respected Eduardo Alonso) and why the top Brazilian fighters in UFC are dumping their current agents/managers. Suffice to say, UFC probably wishes he hadn’t opened his mouth because what he said to Sherdog dovetails perfectly into the narrative that ESPN’s Outside the Lines program was pushing about the supposed climate of fear UFC pushes.
Eduardo is a very competent guy, but he doesn’t like this way of operating; he prefers one person taking care of everything. Not commanding everything, but overseeing everything. I don’t agree, [I prefer] each guy in his area. I like him, I know he likes me, but there was some conflict of ideas.
There are some different people helping me with this part right now; I’m still thinking. The UFC has made it clear that we don’t need a manager; all negotiations are conducted by the athletes themselves. A manager today is not like in the PRIDE days. At that time, they had much more weight. I am in favor of a manager, that’s not the reason that I separated from Eduardo. I want to work with people nearby: Eduardo works in Sao Paulo and I’m in Curitiba. But, this is not the only reason. There are others, like I said.
The UFC’s stance about guys not needing agents is not anything new if you’ve followed what Dana White has said online for a while now. What is new is that you have several top Brazilian fighters all of a sudden abandoning their managers/agents after UFC picks up major steam in Brazil w/ the help of uber-rich Eike Batista. Amazing how fast attitudes are changing now that UFC has found their dream money man in a dream money market to attract major-league talent & run big shows at.
Everyone has a right to proper & good representation. Unfortunately, often times we see horrible representation for fighters and promoters can easily take advantage of said reps or dismiss the fighter(s) altogether. But let’s call a spade a spade here — if Shogun and other top Brazilian fighters believe that they don’t need a quality representative or agent/manager, then that’s just plain stupid. It’s also incredibly dangerous and eliminates any kind of leverage a fighter has in negotiations.
(Addendum: As noted in the comments, I should have better stated that, yes, Shogun says he has new management and isn’t going at it alone here. However, if he’s stating out in the open that UFC is telling the Brazilian fighters they don’t need representation, my opinion is that there’s going to be several fighters that take this recommendation to heart.)
People act like good agents or managers grow on trees. That’s entirely false. Good, quality representatives generally have a solid legal background or a business background with strong legal connections in order to protect the interests of their best clients. There’s not a lot of strong agents currently in the MMA field. Remember how there this grand hope that once UFC ‘exploded’ and made it big on Fox that we would see ‘real sports’ representatives start backing top fighters? Hasn’t happened, has it?
Instead of seeing an evolution of quality representation in the MMA game, we’re seeing a devolution happening right in front of our eyes. It’s quite remarkable to see just how many fighters are getting easily played. Instead of aligning with agencies like William Morris, CAA/Tom Condon, or Scott Boras, you have fighters buying the spin that they don’t need an agent or can get by fine with a relative.
Let’s take a real world comparison of a top athlete that doesn’t have an agent backing them: Ray Allen. First off, Ray Allen is an incredibly smart man. He has money. He also has the backing of the NBA union, a union that can give him legal & contract advice at any time. Yes, he can negotiate his own deals, but he’s also got a bedrock of support in case he needs it. Ray also knows what the salaries of the other players in the league are. In other words, he can always go into negotiations from a point of leverage.
Very few MMA fighters, at this point, can go into negotiations with Zuffa from a high point of leverage without quality representation. There is no union or fighter’s association. Because UFC doesn’t disclose the full picture of what they exactly pay fighters, most fighters have no idea what other top-level performers are getting paid. Going in unarmed against Zuffa is fool’s gold. However, apparently many more fighters lately (especially the Brazilians) think they can match business wits with Lorenzo Fertitta. Not going to happen.
Time for the fighters to reconsider what they are doing.
Athletic Commission drug testing panels
With all the fallout from Nick Diaz failing another Nevada drug test due to marijuana usage, two new angles to the drug testing issue in MMA have arrived hot & heavy in new debate:
- What drugs should and shouldn’t be tested for by the Athletic Commissions?
- Shouldn’t the point of drug testing be to prevent fighters who are doping from actually fighting in the first place instead of after-the-fact punishment?
Which recreational drugs should and should not be tested by labs such as Quest Diagnostics? Why do athletic commissions like Nevada’s go for the current testing panel (a one-size-fits-all approach) and not use a more realistic panel that is more appropriately tailored for combat sports?
Here’s what Dr. Goodman has said about what drugs should or should not be tested for on this drug screening panels:
Marijuana should be considered a illegal substance by commissions because it slows the reflexes and reaction time of an athlete. Therefore, it carries considerable danger in a combat sports fighter.
Note that years ago, the NSAC changed the threshold for testing positive. So, an athlete has to have considerable exposure for them to test positive. That was done because so many were testing positive with no recent use.
On the last point, she speaks from experience & first-hand knowledge. So many boxers & fighters were testing positive for past marijuana usage that adjustments were made to the current policy for THC.
The truth is also that fighters are supposed to compete drug free. Not all the substances tested for on these panels are actual illegal substances, but prohibited for fighters because they create an unfair advantage or disadvantage.
You would be surprised how many commissions that test do not release results. So, who knows who has tested positive in other states with well-known athletic commissions. It isn’t that the fighters are clean there, it is that there is no public reporting or hearings.
If this sounds familiar to you, it might ring a bell because of what happened with Nate Marquardt (search related articles here) last year and the whole brouhaha over Testosterone Replacement Therapy. Remember, he fought Dan Miller in New Jersey and then his fight got halted in Pennsylvania. It led to Rick Story ending up fighting Charlie Brenneman in Pittsburgh and we all saw what happened there. The whole PA/NJ AC ‘what’s reported, what isn’t reported’ debate was sharpened when our friend Robert Joyner started asking questions around the time news was floating that Nate was doing what he was doing, fought in New Jersey, but then couldn’t fight in Pennsylvania.
As to the other angle raised by the Nick Diaz suspension…
VADA supports clean sport. Unannounced random testing is to make certain fighters don’t go into a fight on drugs. It is important to test after the fight as well, but it isn’t far to the fighters and the fans as well as against fighter safety to have fighters competing on illegal substances.
We’ve reached a point where the drug testing issue in MMA is a gotcha game rather than a health & safety debate. Whether you agree or disagree that fighters shouldn’t be tested for marijuana usage, the point is that Nick Diaz was able to fight Carlos Condit and his punishment, while undoubtedly severe, is taking place after the fight actually happened.
Victor Conte calls combat sports ‘the hurt game.’ Well, if we’re serious about not wanting fighters to beat each other into oblivion while using steroids, growth hormone, testosterone, and other drugs that impact physical punishment, why do we accept after-the-fact drug testing as an adequate form of regulation & sanctioning? If someone is juiced out of their mind and ends up killing their opponent… but only gets caught after-the-fact that they were juicing… it’s not going to bring back the person who died.
Marijuana vs. testosterone drug usage
On Twitter this past Thursday night, I was asked why I think there should be no allowance of Testosterone Replacement Therapy as opposed to being open-minded about the current drug testing policy for fighters using marijuana.
The logic is pretty simple, in my opinion.
While I lean towards not wanting fighters high as a kite while fighting during an MMA bout, I’m still open to arguments that there isn’t a dramatic enough impact on performance-enhancement for fighters who are smoking weed. It doesn’t mean I’m being two-faced at all; it just means I think the debate is not an open-and-shut case.
Testosterone usage, on the other hand, is a case I think should be open-and-closed. I don’t believe Testosterone Replacement Therapy should be allowed, under any circumstances, in combat sports. No TUEs (Therapeutic Use Exemptions), nothing.
As Dr. David Black famously said on 60 Minutes many years ago, testosterone is the base chemical for steroids. If I don’t support steroid usage in the first place, why would I support external application of testosterone for active fighters (even if it’s in the name of getting back to an acceptable T/E ratio e.g. 1:1)?
(Addendum: I’d like to see the AC’s get rid of TRT acceptance but use a grandfather clause for currently approved users who eventually will fade away from the scene…)
Further clarification of my stance on TRT usage: If you’re a fighter and you need to use TRT for recovery in your daily life, fine, go ahead. Just don’t expect me to be cheerleading for you to have a fighter’s license and actively fight while you’re using TRT.
The most frustrating thing about the issue of TRT in MMA is that once Chael Sonnen (related articles here) got suspended by California’s commission over using testosterone, Big Pharma was in the process of launching huge “Low T” drug campaigns. There wasn’t a radio station that you could avoid in hopes of not hearing a horrible ‘Ageless Male’ commercial hawking that their product can boost your testosterone by 61%. The non-stop TV commercials during football games (oh, the irony…) for Low T was nauseating. It was as if Sonnen had timed his suspension perfectly to coincide with Big Pharma. Suddenly, the issue got muddled for many fans because of the onslaught of ‘male menopause’ crap and how every guy should go grab them some testosterone from a doctor.
Most men who do genuinely need testosterone are in their late 40s or early 50s… not fighters in their 20s or early 30s. People using TRT are doing so because their endocrine system isn’t functioning. If you’re under the age of 40 and you’re an athlete with low testosterone, two likely reasons for this exist: past/current steroid usage or effects from weight cutting.
In essence, you can be a steroid user, damage your endocrine system, and get a prescription for TRT. It’s double dipping! This doesn’t even take into account the amount of athletes who are currently using gels, creams, or deer antler sprays that produce growth hormone-like results.
I was asked if I believe current fighters who have damaged endocrine systems should be allowed to use TRT in accordance with permission from athletic commissions. My answer: no.
What if an athlete took steroids when they were in high school and now want to be an MMA fighter but need testosterone? My answer: too bad.
There’s consequences for everything you do in life. It’s not your God-given right to get an MMA license to fight.
The natural reaction I get when I discuss my stance on TRT is that I’m issuing a blanket response that ‘everyone in MMA on TRT is a steroid user.’ Not true. I’m sure that there are a few fighters who have legitimate needs to use testosterone. I’m OK with them using testosterone… as long as they aren’t an active fighter. However, I am not going to sit here and be played like a fool on the issue of TRT. We know why testosterone usage is a popular idea for fighters who are currently doping.
Comparing marijuana usage to testosterone usage is like comparing apples to oranges.