It may be the subject UFC President Dana White looks the most uncomfortable talking about – drugs and performance enhancers and suspensions. I recently came across a list of the suspensions of UFC fighters over the last few years, and the list is remarkably long. It’s not just main event fighters, it has been competitors heading into ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series, it has been undercard fighters and to be fair to the UFC, there have been a lot of suspensions for fighters under different promotions. Sorry, the Strikeforce suspensions count for Zuffa, since they bought the company, but it goes beyond that to the smaller shows.
The UFC recently announced that the Nevada State Commission had randomly tested six of the fighters scheduled to fight on May 26th at the UFC 146 event in Nevada.
Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, as well as Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, Roy Nelson, and Antonio Silva all got tested. Now what does that mean for the other 18 fighters on the card? Likely there will be more testing around the event. But was this big pre-test just for show?
Let’s take a peak at some of the more interesting suspensions.
Chris Leben – maybe for the first time ever, I’m rooting for Chris Leben. Leben was suspended for using painkillers, and he subsequently admitted to a substance abuse problem. He has a prior suspension for a PEDs, and he has 2 DUI arrests to his credit. The UFC has invested a lot in Leben, who is an alumni of the first season of ‘TUF’. If anything he is a survivor, as two losses on the reality show should have seen him relegated to waterboy.
’Cyborg’ Santos – If you listen to Ronda Rousey, ‘Cyborg’ is suspended for having a penis. But really though, as a woman’s champion, it was a considerable blow to Strikeforce. Zuffa handled it well, stripping her and effectively sending the weight class on hiatus. Are they really going to bring her back?
’King’ Mo Lawal – Lawal was one of the real talents still on the Strikeforce roster – one of the few I was eager to see versus the UFC’s competition at Lightheavyweight. In some ways he reminds me of a young Quentin Jackson, with solid striking, solid wrestling and that hunger. But an inappropriate tweet about a commissioner, and Lawal is gone and cut from his contract.
Josh Barnett – He was stripped of the UFC Heavyweight Title for a positive test, and he has been banished from the organization ever since. Barnett is also a three time loser on the testing front, the first one in MMA history. However, rather than address the issue, or make an example out of Barnett, Zuffa just answers with silence. They are going to ignore what happened, and make use of Barnett. So much for even a facade of a policy.
There are too many others to mention here. What seems clear, is that for an active roster of approximately 400, the percentage under suspension or that have been under suspension for use of PEDs is very high. And Zuffa isn’t going to be able to do anything about it.