By Zach Arnold | February 20, 2013
Jon Fitch was one of 16 fighters cut by the UFC on Wednesday. There’s plenty of outrageousness outrage online about the news. The reaction has largely been predictable.
So, let’s focus on the issue from a different angle and that’s the shamelessness of MMA fighters using testosterone in order to extend their careers so they aren’t the next ones on the cut list.
Everyone was blathering palaver in response to Dana White’s comments from past week about his disgust with fighters using testosterone. It’s just another smokescreen from UFC management and really just a carry over from Dana’s media strategy of buying time, buying more time, and buying even more time before actually facing reality head-on and doing something about the problem. Remember, it was nine months ago when Dana said in an interview that the issue of drug usage in UFC is not as big as it’s being made out to be.
Three questions arise from this weekend’s comments:
1) Why is UFC reversing course publicly now after they created the environment for testosterone usage in the first place?
Someone has to be nudging them and that party must be someone with financial clout. Perhaps Fox executives? Otherwise, there’s no reason for UFC to care about any sort of consequences from testosterone usage fallout. Perhaps the lawyers finally got in their ear and said that the issue is a ticking time bomb for liability?
2) Why should fighters end their shamelessness in using testosterone if the UFC’s doctors and UFC-friendly commission doctors go along for the joy ride?
If you’re Vitor Belfort, Rampage Jackson, Frank Mir, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Nate Marquardt, and a slew of other fighters, why stop using testosterone now if UFC’s guy Dr. Jeff Davidson or a guy like Dr. Tim Treanor (Keith Kizer’s guy which comes from the same commission that Marc Ratner comes from) is handing out the hall passes? These guys see the cuts happening all the time. They don’t want to be on that list.
3) If UFC really cares about the issue, why don’t they follow the one path that would create some anxiety over the issue with fighters — stop booking them for shows?
Last weekend, Dana White is throwing a PR fit about testosterone and the suckers in the media push his tripe as if he’s really all-caring about the topic. A week after his comments, you have UFC in Anaheim with Dan Henderson in the semi-main event. Then you have Chael Sonnen getting pushed on FX (via The Ultimate Fighter) to promote a bout against Jon Jones. You have Vitor Belfort antagonizing anyone who criticizes him for using testosterone for fights and Luke Rockhold has to deal with this circus for their upcoming match.
There’s a simple solution for minimizing the shamelessness — simply stop booking the fighters in top slots. The counter-argument to this is that the fighters will simply keep using testosterone and not admit to it in public. I don’t buy the sympathy ploy.
A final thought
Remember the whole debacle between Rampage Jackson and Fighters Only magazine last February when he was preaching to the masses about his testosterone usage? I said at the time that the testosterone issue would catch up to UFC in a bad way and that it would start sucking up the oxygen in the media. It’s a legitimate and serious topic, especially when you see everyone in baseball freaking out about their players getting caught going to a wannabe unlicensed mark doctor in Tony Bosch in South Florida.
Everyone knows what the end game will be with testosterone issue — there will be a fight involving a guy on testosterone and the other guy not on it. The guy using testosterone will seriously hurt his opponent, perhaps permanent brain damage or paralysis or even a death in the cage. Outlets like Outside the Lines will smell blood in the water and rip UFC to shreds for creating an environment in which testosterone hall passes are being dished out.
And if UFC needs to see what the future looks like on this issue? Look at WWE. Even they figured out that giving out testosterone hall passes is a scam. Of course, we had Chris Benoit with his brain damage & massive testosterone usage to contribute to the pressure during that media circus.
As today’s cuts by the UFC demonstrates, fighters will do anything to extend their careers. The UFC has been all too happy to give out the permission slips for testosterone usage to muscular guys fighting a cage who are talking tough out of one side of their mouth and crying hypogonadism out the other side. If hypogonadism is such an epidemic in Mixed Martial Arts, how come it isn’t in an epidemic in a sport like the NFL? The UFC wants everyone to treat their operation as a real sport. They want Fox to promote them as a real sport. And yet, what kind of a sport are you pushing when so many of your top athletes are claiming they can’t naturally produce testosterone and need to take a dosage of the base chemical of anabolic steroids in order to function as a human being to compete?
Right now, MMA’s credibility as a sport when it comes to drug usage is on the same level as horse racing and cycling. Lip service isn’t going to fix the problem. Neither are bogus promises of claiming to test testosterone users globally during their training camps while also proclaiming out the other side of your mouth that you can’t drug test every athlete under contract because it’s too expensive and unreliable. The UFC has their hand caught in the cookie jar here and they still aren’t sure what kind of strategy to use to handle the testosterone mess they’ve created and enabled in the sport.
Addendum: Keith Kizer suspends boxer Mickey Bey for elevated levels of testosterone. We now have a system in Nevada where Kizer & his doctor (Tim Trainor) are giving out testosterone hall passes to fighters who ask for them while suspending fighters for elevated T/E ratios who don’t have hall passes. If you’re going to give out permission slips for guys to use the base chemical of anabolic steroids (testosterone), don’t you think you lose the moral & ethical ground by going after fighters w/o hall passes who test positive for testosterone?