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As the UFC turns: Nick Diaz, Eddie Alvarez, Shogun, & weed vs. TRT

By Zach Arnold | February 10, 2012

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Nick Diaz

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”

Eddie Alvarez

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:

Dr. Margaret Goodman (search related articles here) has raised these questions in the past when talking about her new Voluntary Anti-Doping Association project in various media interviews.

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.

Topics: Bellator, Brazil, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 19 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

19 Responses to “As the UFC turns: Nick Diaz, Eddie Alvarez, Shogun, & weed vs. TRT”

  1. fd2 says:

    “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?”

    Why would you think that Alvarez and Bellator having trouble coming to terms for a contract renewal would prevent them from making a fight with him and Aoki?

    “The UFC’s stance about guys not needing agents is not anything new if you’re 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’s relationship with uber-rich Eike Batista picks up heavy steam.”

    The fact that every top brazilian fighter that suddenly abandoned their manager/agent then picked up another manager/agent rather than starting to negotiate with the UFC on their own kind of undermines your point here.

    Ed. — On the Shogun point, you’re right that I did not phrase it properly in the right context.

  2. io31 says:

    “If I don’t support steroid usage in the first place, why would I support external application of testosterone for fighters even if it’s in the name of getting back to a 1:1 Testosterone/Epitestosterone ratio?”

    Dude.. uhmm… I don’t know how to say this politely but why would you write hundreds or crazed, raging words about this subject even though you don’t know the very basics or the subject? TRT increases T/E ratio, not decrease it. EpiT is used as a measure of the what the naural T production should be. TRT restores the T levels to within an acceptable range and increases the T/E ration in the process?

    “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.”

    I am really glad that you allow fighters to go on TRT as long as they stop fighting. I think there would be a lot of broken hearts if you disallowed anyone with a pro MMA record from going on TRT.

    Joking aside, your stance is irrational. As you noted, an athlete can have low T because of his/her past (perfectly legal) weight cutting and still banned from competition with TRT. Why wouldn’t you want to allow someone to get to the normal range (restoring the performance, not enhancing)? Why is hormonal deficiency any different from any other ailment or injury? Following your high and mighty (“tough luck, consequences”) logic, why should athletes be allowed to have their torn ligaments surgically fixed, or broken bones reattached with metal plates (that even makes the bone stronger, unfair!!!!). Maybe they should be given a speech about choices and consequences in life too.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Dude.. uhmm… I don’t know how to say this politely but why would you write hundreds or crazed, raging words about this subject even though you don’t know the very basics or the subject? TRT increases T/E ratio, not decrease it. EpiT is used as a measure of the what the naural T production should be. TRT restores the T levels to within an acceptable range and increases the T/E ration in the process?

      I’m amused that you characterize my words as ‘raging’ when in fact what I write here is what I’d say privately or publicly in a relatively calm manner.

      Of course I know which side of the equation testosterone is raised on. Keith Kizer talked about this subject with Mike Straka a while back and how the process in Nevada works for TRT acceptance.

      Given what’s been said, I don’t believe active fighters who are licensed should be allowed to get cleared by commissions to use it.

      As you noted, an athlete can have low T because of his/her past (perfectly legal) weight cutting and still banned from competition with TRT. Why wouldn’t you want to allow someone to get to the normal range (restoring the performance, not enhancing)? Why is hormonal deficiency any different from any other ailment or injury?

      This comment broaches the larger context I stated about athletes in high school who are doping or weight cutting, damage their system, and then want TRT later on to compete in MMA…

      No one is making you use steroids and no one is making you cut weight. Those are choices you make. Just because everyone does those acts doesn’t mean you have to. That’s your choice to do it.

      My past comments on weight cutting probably would answer any questions you have about where I come down on that subject. Hint: Not a supporter.

      Following your high and mighty (“tough luck, consequences”) logic, why should athletes be allowed to have their torn ligaments surgically fixed, or broken bones reattached with metal plates (that even makes the bone stronger, unfair!!!!). Maybe they should be given a speech about choices and consequences in life too.

      Don’t come here and attempt to label me by using an improper emotion on arguments I’m proposing or commenting on.

      In my opinion, I don’t think asking people to not use drugs or to not be engaged in high-risk levels of weight cutting (i.e. 30 pounds or more) is being high and mighty. I view it as common sense. I also approach the subject from the viewpoint of someone who supports clean athletes that want to compete in MMA. They shouldn’t be made out to be the exception, not the rule, when it comes to doping. The playing field is already a mess as it is.

      Trying to compare testosterone usage to surgical procedures is like comparing weed usage to T usage, it’s apples and oranges. Different and separate sides of the coin.

      You accuse me of being high and mighty here — and I could turn it around on you and accuse of you being naive in thinking that testosterone usage in MMA is as pure as the wind driven snow. That’s really what the TRT argument boils down to — whether or not you think fighters want to use it so they can double dip in doping.

      One further note — I come from a background where a lot of guys have harmed or killed themselves from steroids/growth hormone/pain killers cocktail usage and it sucks watching people die at a young age. So, forgive me for thinking that weed usage shouldn’t automatically be placed on the same level as testosterone usage here.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Here is the Bellator issue in a nutshell:

    1) Once a guy like Eddie Alvarez has been a champion, he is not going to want to re-enter a tournament in order to get a title shot. And yet they have no system in place for him.

    2) The Tournaments create contenders, not stars. They are typically taking 8 unknown/non-popular fighters, and within 3 months are giving one of them a title shot. None of the title fights coming up are considering that big of a deal because the challengers really haven’t been pumped up enough in the eyes of the fans.

    Look at Alvarez vs. Chandler for example. Now that Chandler won the belt, it seems like it is only NOW that people are trying to get familiar with him. It’s sort of backwards logic compared to what the UFC does…. Which is build up the contender BEFORE they even get in the title picture.

    3) There is no contract they can create that will hold down fighters forever. Even the UFC does not have that. So when fighters do get out of their restrictive contracts, Bellator is going to be in the same position that the UFC’s last 10 competitors were in. Either overpay market value for talent…. Or lose any sort of named fighter and constantly have to re-build from the bottom up.

    4) If they do get rid of the tournaments, then they will have to seriously beef up their roster. Having guys fight up to 3 times in 3 months gives the illusion of roster depth. Without it, each fighter would probably only fight 2 times per season maximum. They would need to increase their roster size of relevant talent.

    There is a place in MMA for a great UFC feeder league. The problem is that Bellator and especially Viacom don’t want to become that. Because of this, they will suffer instead of thrive, just as we have seen time and time and time again.

    • AfroSamurai says:

      Damn great points made here esp with 2 and 3 well hell 1 and 4 also.

      I really wish Bellator was a feeder league to the UFC because the tournament format would perfectly prepare fighters for the UFC.

      Tahachi Palace isn’t doing bad. I hope as the UFC expands more up and comers in these different countries will take the Tahachi approach and not Bellator.

  4. Phil says:

    I don’t think the TRT/weed comparison should be made until someone comes out in public and says they applied for a TUE and got rejected. Right now nick diaz is in the same boat as Chael, was in CA. Taking a banned substance they claim they have a medical need for, but not getting prior clearance to use it.

    • edub says:

      I thought he had a “wink wink” agreement with the former head of CSAC for a TUE. Then when he got changed in 2009 the new head wouldn’t accept it.

      That’s when Nick was supposed to fight Hieron.

      • Phil says:

        The wink wink agreement was that he would only be tested on fight night, which is why he couldn’t do the prefight test for the hieron fight.

  5. [...] As the UFC Turns: Nick Diaz, Eddie Alvarez, Shogun and Weed vs. TRT: FightOpinion [...]

  6. chris says:

    What was the deal with Sharri Sheppard was it? The super laywer GSP and F.Edgar were represented by? And now they aren’t.

    I would think a managers best suited for a MMA fighter when it comes to securing sponsorships and other assistant/manager type jobs during the course of preparing for a fight.

    If you are going to the UFC, unless you are an established big name, the money isn’t being offered to you until you run the gamut.
    My manager isn’t going to get me a 12/12 deal for my first fight when everyone else is getting 6/6 or 8/8.

    If anything only knowing small bits of the business, I would think I would have my lawyer, a contract lawyer review my documents, offer advice yadda yadda. A “mma super agent” I can name all of them on one hand, and each one is a fly by night joke. It’s a flavor of the month it feels like.
    People work with Monte, on handshake deals? ha.
    Malki is a big mouth who loves to see his name in the news and seems more miss than hit for his growing number of clients. You’re gonna tell me Malki got Jon Jones a megadeal when he poached him? nah.
    What was the douche’s name that sold his MMA agents biz a year ago? He was the worst of them all.

    Oh and let’s not forget that new UFC fighter Cuba, he was supposed to fight on Feb15 but his manager is a joke and couldn’t get him out of his contract with another joke of a league. The last I heard hi manager was negotiating with this mma company to give them 10% of Cuba’s lifetime UFC earnings or some BS.

    So where do managers really help push your career to the fullest? Especially when they’re getting 10+% of the fighters money? Show me how a manager earns his bread?

    Roy Nelson and the Roy Jones Promotions contract issues is a prime example as to why you don’t negotiate you’re own deals is the best counterpoint argument.

    • AfroSamurai says:

      I almost forgot abotu that cuban fighter. Damn he is stuck. They want a percentage for every fight he has for the rest of his UFC career

      • Chuck says:

        I’m sorry, what Cuban fighter?

        Ed. — I’m assuming he’s talking about Hector Lombard.

        • edub says:

          Not Lombard. It’s another guy that was supposed to fight on a UFC card recently, and got halted because of a prior contract with a regional promotion.

          However, his argument is basically playing into your point that you need a competent manager handling your affairs. Not just you, or anybody else.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Yoislandy Izquierdo.

        • Chuck says:

          Ah. Thank you for the info.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      Managers should be acquiring and cutting deals with sponsors, the promoters, and getting their fighters appearances. That is their job. Given the nonguaranteed nature of the UFC contracts, all that secondary cashflow is where a lot of these fighters are supposedly getting rich, which means having good management is pretty fucking important.

  7. Coconut says:

    Until their is some sort of union backing MMA fighters there will no leverage for management to have. The fighters have nowhere else to go and the UFC holds all the cards to whether they stay or not.

  8. AfroSamurai says:

    Great article on TRT vs THC. Completely agree however i dont think it should be grandfathered out but rather completely done away with.

  9. RST says:

    “In other words, the Diaz camps says that Condit & Malki Kawa were fronting about a rematch…”

    And that’s the kind of BS that makes me hate cesar gracie.

    I don’t hate Diaz, or the cesar gracie camp fighters, but cesar gracie is a scumbag and a BS’er from what I see.

    Not really sure why you would give that airplay boss.

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