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The UFC Has A PED Problem … And I Don't Care

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports


This past Saturday night, arguably one of the greatest champions ever in sports made his return as Anderson Silva took on Nick Diaz at UFC 183. Silva broke his leg during a middleweight title fight against Chris Weidman at UFC 168 in December 2013 and many believed that his career would come to an end with that injury.

Over a year of recovering and training for Silva resulted in one of the most anticipated returns in UFC history and the night ended with Silva winning a unanimous decision over Diaz. With the happy ending, many started to discuss Silva getting a third fight with current champion Weidman and Silva possibly regaining the title once again. However, a couple of days after the fight, something unthinkable happened.

Silva tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

For his part, Diaz tested positive for marijuana for the third time in the UFC and he may have smoked his way out of a job. The bigger news of course was Silva testing positive for Drostanolone and Androstane during a pre-fight screening. With so much riding on Silva’s return due to the leveling off of UFC’s ratings and interest, this was a body blow for the Zuffa owned company. While everyone has begun standing on their soapboxes and wagging their fingers at those who use PED’s, this is nothing new for the UFC and mixed martial arts as a whole. Here are some notable fighters who has tested positive for PED’s in the last few years.

Chael Sonnen (Former #1 Contender for Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Title)

Cung Le (Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion

Stephan Bonnar (Appeared In first Ultimate Fighter Season and credited with helping put UFC on the map after fight against Forrest Griffin)

Chris Leben (Ultimate Fighter Season One Contestant)

Vitor Belfort (Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion)

Royce Gracie (Won UFC 1, 2 and 4 one night tournaments)

Tim Sylvia (Former UFC Heavyweight Champion)

That was just a few names that have tested positive. The list gets longer if you bring in undercard fighters and prospects that used PED’s and got caught though random drug tests. In a sport like mixed martial arts, sometimes nagging injuries linger longer through a training camp. At other times, turnaround times to another payday fight is short and recovery times are cut significantly. PED’s in MMA is something that has been around forever and honestly…its ok.

The sport is two men or women fighting for survival in a 15-minute or 25-minute match. Both fighters in the ring are at peak physical condition and looking to make their opponent submit or just knock them out completely. Unfortunately a sports such as this lends itself to fighters trying to find that extra edge to continue to compete at the highest level for titles and money.

Maybe it’s a fan burned out from all the PED conversation over the years talking but I really don’t even care anymore about use of performance enhancing drugs in sports. It’s something that still goes on with or without stringent testing. Some get caught and some don’t and that’s the way it’s going to be from here on out. The UFC in particular is a sport where PED use will continue in order for fighters to keep their spot in the number one MMA organization in the world. And with Dana White not taking the lead to increase and improve drug testing, both in and out of competition, the same issues will continue to hamper the UFC and even the smaller MMA organizations around the world.

So where do we go from here? There is nowhere to go. Fighters will find a way to keep that edge over other fighters as we saw with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) that many fighters used a couple years of ago. For every failed test, there will be doctors and physicians giving fighters a banned substance of some sort and those fighters taking the risk of being caught and ostracized by their competitors…who may also be taking a banned substance.

As fans, all we can do is to take solace in knowing that some fighters do not take PED’s that we know of. For those who are taking them, everyone is doing it so it’s easier to keep up with the Joneses as opposed to just taking the road less traveled. The UFC is an exciting sport and one that is not going anywhere. But as long as they have fighters who continue to fail drug testes, some fans will be turned off from the sport. I will continue to watch because let’s be honest, it’s still damn good television.

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