An uncensored conversation with Josh Gross on Vitor Belfort & doping in MMA after the 2-year Sonnen ban
By Zach Arnold | July 25, 2014
If there is any writer who understands your frustrations with the blatant absurdity over the last five years regarding doping in Mixed Martial Arts, it’s Josh Gross. This is a man who was blistered by so many defenders of Chael Sonnen in 2010 when Josh led the way on the reporting of Sonnen’s journey into testosterone usage in California. Gross had his integrity maligned by a lot of people who knew better and yet didn’t apologize when they were exposed as frauds. One person who hasn’t apologized to Josh Gross is Chael Sonnen. After Sonnen was given a two-year ban by Nevada on Wednesday, he had a brief encounter in person with Josh Gross at the athletic commission meeting. What a circus.
We had a chance this week on Fight Opinion Radio to talk with Josh Gross for 25 minutes about Wednesday’s hearing and what the ramifications are for Sonnen’s two year ban juxtaposed to Vitor Belfort being granted a new license. Intriguingly, the mood in the meeting room in Las Vegas was business as usual according to Josh.
“Not so different than most of the athletic commission hearings I’ve been to. I didn’t see any heightened tension. I didn’t see anything that was out of the ordinary, quite honestly. It was a pretty significant Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing. Floyd “Money” Mayweather was in there. You had the UFC Fight Pass crew and a whole bunch of people that were attending. But, you know, it wasn’t so different on that end.“
By far the biggest loophole being exploited by fighters doping is the issue of licensing. If you’re licensed and get caught, you’re in trouble. If you’re not actively licensed, you are in a much better spot.
“Chael Sonnen was licensed under the Nevada State Athletic Commission at the time of the test and Vitor Belfort was not. I think that’s essentially what it comes down to. That’s my understanding based on discussion afterwards. I think that’s really the thing that separates those two cases.”
The back-and-forth discussion on this week’s edition of Fight Opinion Radio (which can be downloaded at http://www.fightopinion.com/podcasts/foradio-7-25-2014.mp3 and updated on our Feedburner link) was as clear of an illustration of how deep the doping plague still is for MMA and combat sports in general. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Our response to the absurdity of what happened on Wednesday is simple.
“I think what separate those two cases is the fact that Vitor Belfort might have a shot to beat Chris Weidman and I don’t think Chael Sonnen was going anywhere, so his career’s over and someone has to be the sacrificial lamb.”
The debate heading into Wednesday’s meeting was whether or not Belfort should have been granted a license, even if it was a fait accompli that Nevada was going to give Belfort a license if it meant a UFC fight in Las Vegas.
“Look, it was a confluence of a lot of crazy events. I tend to agree with Zach and I appreciate his viewpoint on it. I do think, though, there were things that differentiated the Sonnen case from the Belfort case and it’s not just a matter of they can make a big payday in Vegas with Belfort and Sonnen, they can still promote Chael Sonnen and sell him.
“These things are already sticky. They’ve always been ugly. If you follow the regulators and how it works, it’s never… every time you’re in there it feels like something’s off and something’s just not working the way it should but it works that way every time. So, I think it’s perhaps designed that way. I do have a problem with these regulators in Nevada and they seem to do it just sort of being buddy buddy with fighters. Bill Brady was just fawning over Chael Sonnen. It’s embarrassing to see. I mean, it’s strange bedfellows really. You have these people who are charged with the oversight of this business and these people and these licensees and yet these people and these businesses and these licensees are the ones that are bringing in the dollars for this commission to have any kind of say over anything. If the Nevada State Athletic Commission wasn’t making taxpayer money the way they were, [Wednesday[ would haven't been such a big deal. But the reality is it is big business. Big shock, money's a consideration. I don't know. What would have been the preferable outcome been? Belfort gets no license and can't fight Chris Weidman? Belfort gets a license and the UFC goes off and promotes him in Brazil? What would have been the best case scenario?
"No license? Yeah, I think that would have been the most plausible as I think a lot of people would have been there and that's totally reasonable and you can't give the guy a license. But again, you know, really ugly sticky situation with this [testosterone usage] which is why people are beating the drum to get rid of it or regulate it closer. I mean, there’s a reason why this thing has just been a noose around the sport’s neck for a couple of years now. We’re still seeing the effects of it.”
Make sure to go out of your way and check out our Fight Opinion Radio interview with Josh Gross this week. Also discussed during the interview:
- The way Keith Kizer is trying to portray himself on the testosterone issue now that he’s no longer the athletic commission’s front man
- How accurate were Josh’s comments about doping in MMA on Jim Rome’s radio show four years ago
- Why UFC has gone all-in with Vitor Belfort despite him blowing up their two big Las Vegas shows in 2014
- Why the regulators will probably throw the book at Wanderlei Silva and punish him hard
- How bad it is for the sport’s image & credibility to have fighters like Jose Aldo & Chad Mendes mudslinging drug accusations
- How much longer UFC can hide behind regulators when it comes to ultimately taking responsibility on cleaning up doping in MMA
A lot to digest in a 25 minute interview but I think it’s well worth it for you to listen to it and give us some feedback.