By Zach Arnold | June 29, 2014
I don’t think you could have had better symbolism to represent all of UFC’s current problems than the dog’s breakfast of a doubleheader on Saturday, topped off with the cherry on the steroid sundae after Chael Sonnen reportedly tested positive for HGH, EPO, and hCG for his random Nevada State Athletic Commission drug test.
If Nevada doesn’t watch out, UFC will run more shows in Texas and Florida to stay in no-income tax venues w/o all the hassles of actual drug testing. Sorry, Tennessee.
Sonnen, a guy who copped a plea deal to mortgage fraud, has lived it up as the bad guy forever and made millions of dollars in the process. So did the UFC. They never cared about the issue of drug usage in Mixed Martial Arts. And neither did a lot of writers who wanted to be Chael’s friend or wanted to get in on the action for access.
Why are media writers bitching about Fox not telling timely truth on UFC's drug problem? You were silent for years & didn't go for jugular.
— FightOpinion (@FightOpinion) June 29, 2014
Right message, wrong messengers. And a little too late for all parties involved. On Saturday night, Fox Sports insulted their television viewers the worst way imaginable by having Karyn Bryant as the anchor for their coverage. They had two choices: go dark and ignore it or go big and be honest. Instead, FS1 chose the most cowardly way out: they announced the news of Sonnen’s EPO test result at 2 AM EST and read a canned statement in order to plug their weekly UFC Tonight show.
You know what? The Fox/UFC strategy worked. The Sonnen story didn’t trend on Twitter. Nary a peep. Didn’t explode. If you blinked, you missed it. It’s absurd that Fox cooperated with this stunt in ignoring their own UFC insider but Dana sent the message recently that Ariel Helwani is not a sacred cow.
Fox Sports made its bed long ago with the UFC. There’s a reason former ESPN’er Mike Hill was apologizing to Sonnen on camera during his horrific spin job. It was so bad, he retired a day after that performance.
Nearly two decades after Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa, Fox Sports is stuck in a marriage with a pro-steroids UFC organization that is now trying to backtrack as fast as possible. There has been damage done to the credibility of both parties but don’t expect many sports writers to jump on either party. There are many in the sports media rooting for Fox Sports 1 to neuter the mighty ESPN. Just as many are hoping for this outcome because they want to work for Fox Sports (or the UFC). Money makes the world go around.
But what about Chael Sonnen? What about all those rumors that Sonnen could have been the President of Bellator or the face of UFC when Dana White exits stage left? I still think it’s entirely possible that Sonnen will be the face of UFC management down the road. He’s the one guy who can hype a fight as good as Dana at this point for Zuffa. And it was a very quiet, silent Saturday night with Dana not being visible for either UFC event.
Prediction: Chael Sonnen will be part of UFC management within a few years and the whole drug testing controversy will simply be chalked up as Performance (Résumé) Enhancement.
40% of fighters in UFC Hall of Fame have been caught using banned substances.
— pdl (@pdlmma) July 1, 2014
Update (July 1st): Sonnen has been quietly removed from both UFC & FOX. For now. I expect he will return — and it’s interesting how much time passed before a decision was made here.