Robbie Lawler’s next challenger? 3 good(ish) reasons it should be Demian Maia

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MMA: UFC 159-Jones vs Sonnen-Weigh-In

A few days ago, we reported a rumor that Chael Sonnen was offered a spot, with potential ownership stake, to be the face of Bellator. However, Spike TV is disputing those claims.

Sonnen, along with others related to his camp, alluded to an offer by Bellator, but no sources were provided by either side. It’s unlikely that Sonnen would have been given the same type of role Scott Coker was given, as he’s never ran a business before, and certainly not one near the size in which Coker has.  However, Sonnen has proven his worth behind a microphone, and could have served as the on-screen figurehead of the company.

Bellator relieved founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney of his duties last week, opting to replace him with former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. During a press conference last week, Coker and Kay both noted that many changes were coming, and also confirmed that Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view did indeed sell the rumored 100,000 number.

While it’s fun to think about Sonnen heading a company, particularly one that hopes to go neck and neck with the juggernaut that is the UFC, it won’t be happening, and depending on who you believe, was never going to happen.

TAGS:Bellator  Chael Sonnen Spike TV

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Jon Jones turns focus to Cormier

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would prefer to fight Daniel Cormier, and notAlexander Gustafsson, in his next title defense, according to UFC president Dana White.

In comments made to on Monday, White said Jones has still refused to sign bout agreements for a proposed rematch against Gustafsson on Aug. 30 in Las Vegas. Jones defeated Gustafsson via unanimous decision in a close fight in September.

Late last month, White told reporters at a UFC event in Las Vegas he was working on a “new deal” with Jones, which figured to be the primary reason Jones hadn’t agreed yet to the fight. Gustafsson verbally committed to the date and location on May 24.



On Monday, White made it clear the holdup is not related to Jones’ current UFC contract.

“Just to clear up a couple things, people think we’re in contract negotiations with Jon Jones — we’re not,” White said. “Jon Jones still has five fights on his contract.

“So, what we’re doing right now is trying to get him to sign the bout agreement for Gustafsson. He doesn’t want to fight Gustafsson. (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo (Fertitta) and I have a meeting with Jones on Thursday to get him to sign the bout agreement and he’s asking to fight Cormier instead.”

Jones (20-1) has yet to comment publicly on the rematch since it was first reported that he had been offered the fight. He did, however, indirectly comment on the situation via Twitter on Monday. When asked by a fan if he had signed a contract yet, Jones wrote, “What contract?”

A rematch between Jones and Gustafsson (16-2) has seemed inevitable ever since the first meeting at UFC 165 produced such a close fight. Gustafsson came within one round of dethroning the champ, however Jones ultimately won via scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47. He has defended the 205-pound title a UFC record seven consecutive times.

Cormier (15-0) is widely recognized as next in line for a shot at Jones, behind Gustafsson. A former U.S. Olympic wrestler, Cormier is coming off a dominant submission win over Dan Henderson at UFC 173 last month.

Following his most recent win over Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 in April, Jones, 26, refused to answer questions related to Gustafsson at the post-fight press conference.

By Brett Okamoto |


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Dana White and Ken Shamrock Squash Beef, End Long-Standing Feud | Bleacher Report

Dana White and Ken Shamrock Squash Beef, End Long-Standing Feud | Bleacher Report.

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ESPN investigates UFC fighter pay

“Outside the Lines has spoken with more than 20 current, former and potential UFC fighters, as well as agents and promoters,” ESPN’s John Barr charged. “To a person, they say UFC fighters have not received their fair share of the company’s rapidly increasing revenue.”

In short, the show charges that UFC pay is not fair. This is an extraordinariy claim to make in a free-market economy.

With the advent of recycling, there are now countless thousands of people employed to stand by moving lines of refuse, separating the garbage from the recycling. How much would you have to be paid to spend eight hours a day picking through garbage? Is the near minimm wage that scut line workers are paid fair? Best way to determine the answer might be to spend a day doing it, for 50 bucks.

The show established unequivocally that UFC main event fighters make far, far more than do first time prelim fighters, who can earn as little as six or eight thousand dollars if they lose. However, equally unequivocally the UFC is paying main event fighters vastly larger sums because so many more fans pay money to see the main event and main card fighters than they do the undercard fighters.

One need only see the extraordinary swings in PPV buys with roughly equal undercards to understand that main event fighters bring in the money. That may not be “fair” to the undercard fighters who may train just as hard as a Rampage Jackson, and often hold down a full time job simultaneously, dreaming of the day when all they have to do is train. But it is what it is in a free-market economy.

One needs only a passing familiarity with sponsor money figures to understand that the relative sums paid are roughly equivalent to what the market will bear. If sponsors were paying undercard fighters multiples of their purse, then the argument could be made that something was out of balance. But that is not the case.

The show charges that “Nearly all of (20 current, former and potential UFC fighters, as well as agents and promoters) also refused to speak on camera, for fear the UFC would blackball them.” This was presumably their excuse for trotting out Ken Shamrock to denounce the company. Shamrock has been ordered by Nevada courts to repay $175,000 in court costs to UFC parent company Zuffa LLC over a dismissed lawsuit brought by Shamrock.

Whatever Shamrock’s contributions to mixed martial arts – and they are profound – if ESPN had even even a shred of journalistic integrity, they would not ask a man to assess the fairness of a company’s pay structure when that same man has been ordered by a court to pay the company $175,000.

Fighters at all levels of the UFC have tested the waters elsewhere, and invariably seek to return.

Low-level fighters are released by the UFC on a weekly basis, and invariablly vow to put together a string of wins in smaller shows, in an (often successful) attempt to fight their way back into the UFC.

When mid-tier fighters like Paul Daley, Jon Fitch, Nate Marquardt, or Miguel Torres are released for extraordinary reasons, again, there is invariably a statement that their intention is to fight their way back to a UFC contract.

Although it is highly unusual, even top tier fighters like Tito Ortiz or Randy Couture who separate from the UFC in the end re sign the contact. All this suggests that a UFC contract is not unfair and burdensome, but rather is what the entire industry aspires to.

A few top fighters have left and found bigger paydays elsewhere, but not for long. Heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia departed the UFC and signed with Affliction for large amounts of cash, but Affliction MMA lost millions and died after putting on just two shows, which suggests their model was fundamentally flawed, and not something upon which the viability of the sport could possibly rest.

In an undisclosed and almost stupeyingly ironic turn, Shamrock’s failed suit was an attempt to force the UFC to let him fight for the organization. And when he was unsucessful, and saw the courts demand he pay back court costs, he asked the UFC if he could pay off the debt by fighting for the UFC. The man ESPN put front and center to criticise UFC contracts actually sued to try to get one.

Also undisclosed in the piece, Shamrock earned millions from the UFC, and was released not over a contract dispute, but because he could no longer win in the organization, hsving gone 1-4 with his sole victory an early KO over a troubled Kimo Leopoldo.

The argument further falls apart on their inability to find even a single retired fighter other than Shamrock to back up their claims. Is the UFC so terrifying that no retired fighter is willing to say publicly “Geeez, they are doing great, I wish they had paid me more.” Lastly, former UFC 170 pound champion Matt Serra paints an entirely different picture of the interview process, saying the reporter was uninterested in positive comments about the UFC pay structure, and that other fighters had a similar experience.

Monte Cox, the sport’s most prolific promoter and with nine former world champions its most successful manager, appeared on the show and spoke his mind. If Zuffa follows a vindictive management model, then Cox would be either stupid or ignorant to have said what he said on the record, and Monte is neither. To the contrary, there is no one on Earth with a broader knowledge of the sport’s business side.

Shortly before his retirement, Mirko Cro Cop, who has fought for Pride, K-1, and the UFC, predicted his actions should he lose his next fight. “(If I lose I will) apologize, and (say) ‘I’m sorry I wasted your time.’ … I will disappear from the UFC and I will apologize, first to the headquarters of the UFC, because I was treated like a king, I was paid well, and unfortunately I didn’t justify the treatment.”

Cro Cop’s remarks are an extraordinary testament to the character of athletes in MMA – when was the last time a pro athlete in any major sport apologized for being paid too much for his or her performance? As well, it is not the kind of remark one would expect to hear about an organization in which the athletes characteristically feel they are unfairly underpaid.

The ESPN piece also contains flat out mathematical error.

It was initialy claimed that median annual income for UFC fighters was $17,000 to $23,000, an amount barely above minimum wage. The problem is, it isn’t true. ESPN later explained the figure was not per year, but per fight, but that sum does not cover bonuses, sponsorships, PPV percentages, and other standard sources of fighter income.

Just as MMA has remarkable athletes, it has remarkable fans, too. While fans of all other major sports bemoan the amounts paid to the athletes, MMA fans wish the fighters were paid more. From the first timer who loses and earns only $6,000 to GSP who said he makes four to five million per fight, there is a widespread desire on the part of fans to see fighters paid more.

The piece spoke about mainstream sports paying roughly 50% of gross to the athletes, and claimed that the UFC pays only a miserly 10%. Fertitta flatly contradicted the figure, calling it “completely innacurate” and saying that the UFC pays in the neighborhood of 50%. Fertitta also pointed out that since 2005 the UFC has made 39 milllionaires and paid out over $250,000,000 to fighters.

The issue of compensation is a legitimate topic of inquiry in this, or for that matter any industry. And there are multiple places to look at the issue, some of them not as sexy as calling out the UFC. For example, there are fighters competing on television for other promotions for 500 or 600 dollars, with no health insurance.

In sum, the video below does not do the topic justice. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and this piece, with as its centerpiece a man who recently sued to try to get into not away from the UFC, fails to deliver.

As former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez said in a follow up program, “The UFC gives you the best opportunity.”

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Davis rips Jones in response to Dana White



Last week, UFC president Dana White was asked what he felt light heavyweight Phil Daviswould gain with a win over Anthony Johnson this weekend at UFC 172. 

White, who was just about to wrap up a media session, suddenly sat forward in his chair. Clearly, he had something to say on this one. 

“I like Phil and I don’t want to throw Phil under the bus,” White said. “But Phil needs to get over that mental hump. 

“I’ve got guys breathing down my neck for fights, like, ‘I want this fight. I want that fight.’ Phil Davis is like, ‘Eh. I’ll hang out around No. 4 here.’ He’s not that guy that comes across to me like, ‘I f—ing want it. I want to be the best in the world.’” 

Davis (12-1) spoke to several media outlets that same day, including, but his best opportunity to answer White’s claim on Monday during a global media call. He certainly didn’t waste the airtime. 

A former Division-I NCAA wrestling champion at Penn State University, Davis went to work on current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who also happened to be on Monday’s call. He barely uttered a word about Johnson (16-4). 

Some of it was strong (he called Jones “sweetheart”). Some of it was not (he said Jones got hit in the eye so much in his last fight he almost “turned into a pirate”). 

The best moment came when Jones, who played along for the most part, asked Davis which rounds Alexander Gustafsson won in their narrow title fight in September. 

Davis: I thought he won all the ones where he put those hot hands all over your forehead. 

Jones: Oh man. That’s not nice, Phil. 

[+] EnlargeRashad Evans

Ross Dettman for ESPNRashad Evans, facing, humbled Phil Davis when the two met in January 2012.

The realest thing that came out of Davis’ mouth on the call? Probably the first thing he said — when he basically warned everyone listening he was about to go off and — if you read between the lines — admitted he’s maybe not too happy about it. 

“I try to let my fighting do the talking, but I’m going to have to let my talking do the talking for a little bit,” Davis said. “If you want Phil Davis calling and your texting your phone every day, telling you he wants to fight Jon Jones, that’s fine. 

“I thought that just winning would get that done, but that’s not necessarily true.” 

It’s pretty obvious Davis read White’s message to him loud and clear: Get people interested. As many fighters before Davis have learned, it’s not always strictly about wins and losses. Sometimes you’ve got to talk. 

This is why Davis is practicing his standup routine — interrupting one reporter on Monday’s call to ask Jones how he would overcome his fear of fighting (did he buy a night light?). 

A win, however, is still the most crucial piece to Davis’ title aspirations — which he does have, regardless of what White says. Secretly, he understands he’s facing a dangerous opponent in Johnson, who has four knockouts in his last five fights. 

Davis has been in a similar position to this before. In 2012, a 5-0 start in the UFC had him closing in on a title shot — until he lost badly to Rashad Evans via unanimous decision. To this day, Davis says he can’t bring himself to watch that fight. 

“I watched halfway through the first round and turned it off,” Davis told “I couldn’t even watch. I was so p—ed. I still haven’t seen it. 

“I can barely compare who I was in 2012 to the fighter I am now. It’s just so much different. It’s going to take at least two Rashad Evans’ in the cage at the same time to beat me right now.” 

At the request of his boss, Davis is obviously turning up the chatter ahead of his fight in Baltimore. So far, he’s seemed only halfway comfortable with it. It’s still the actual fight on Saturday where Davis will be most comfortable.


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Henderson stops Rua in rematch


Dan Henderson was on shaky legs and had been dropped twice earlier in the fight, but he still had his right hand — and that was enough.

Henderson (30-11) recorded an incredible third-round TKO against Mauricio Rua in the main event of a UFC Fight Night on Sunday in Natal, Brazil.


[+] EnlargeHenderson-Rua

Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.comDan Henderson was nearly knocked out twice before rebounding to finish Mauricio Rua in their rematch at UFC Fight Night 38.


The finish came at the 1:31 mark of the round, when Henderson landed his patented right hand after getting Rua, aka “Shogun,” to drop his arms to defend a takedown. The victory ends a three-fight skid for Henderson, who will turn 44 in August.

“You know, this one probably means more than most,” said Henderson, on the win. “Shogun is such a big part of mixed martial arts; such a talented, tough fighter.

“Especially after the year I had, coming off that, I wanted to make sure I got a win.”

As much as the fight was a testament to Henderson’s knockout power, his chin more than proved itself as well.

The fight had shades of the first meeting between the two, which was considered by many to be the fight of the year in 2011. That five-rounder featured several momentum changes, with Henderson ultimately earning a unanimous decision.

Heavy exchanges were once again a theme in the rematch. Coming off the first knockout loss of his 17-year career to Vitor Belfort in November, Henderson was nearly finished in the first and second rounds by punches.

Henderson hurt Rua (22-9) with a short left hook on the inside in the first round, but ate a counter left by Rua moments later that knocked him down. Referee Herb Dean was on the action as Rua moved into Henderson’s guard and landed hammerfists. The bell might have been the only thing that saved Henderson from a first-round stoppage.

Rua appeared to be on the verge of a knockout again in the following round when he dropped Henderson with a right uppercut. Henderson eventually got Dean to stand the fight back up by tying up Rua from the bottom, but still appeared unbalanced on his feet. With all momentum clearly in Rua’s favor, Henderson shot on a weak double leg early in the third and then connected with the right hand. The blow caused Rua to flip completely over backwards. He attempted to recover by turtling on a single leg, but a few hammerfists from Henderson rendered him defenseless.

“He definitely dinged me,” Henderson said. “He rung my bell a tad in the first round and again in the second. I just decided to be patient, but think I was a little too patient in the first two rounds. I wasn’t very offensive.

“In the third round, I think we decided to get after it.”

Henderson gets his hand raised for the first time since that initial bout against Rua in November 2011. He was scheduled to fight Jon Jones for the title the following year, but withdrew due to knee injury. Rua falls to 1-3 in his last four fights.

Brett Okamoto

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MMA testosterone exemptions high

Vitor Belfort was 33 years old when an Ultimate Fighting Championship doctor in Las Vegas — whose name has faded from his memory — diagnosed low testosterone as the cause for his feeling “tired and lethargic.” The fix for the two-time champion was a testosterone-replacement therapy regimen that continues to this day.
Now 36, as he basks in a career rebirth that has him set for a spring UFC title fight, Belfort has emerged as the poster child for a practice anti-doping experts portray as, at worst, outright cheating and, at best, an unfair exploitation of a performance-enhancing-drug testing loophole: athletes competing while treated with synthetic testosterone.
Exemptions for testosterone use — a substance banned in sports as a performance enhancer — are being handed out at exceedingly high rates in the ever-popular combat sport of mixed martial arts, with state athletic commissions routinely granting allowances based solely on low lab values and diagnoses of hypogonadism, an “Outside the Lines” investigation has found. A major known cause of acquired hypogonadism: prior use of anabolic steroids.

In the past five years, at least 15 mixed martial artists have been issued exemptions to use testosterone, the vast majority revealed or confirmed through public records requests filed by “Outside the Lines” with the major state commissions or athletic bodies overseeing the sport. The sport itself has had more than 20,000 pro fighters over the past five years, according to record keeper, although fewer than 1,800 MMA combatants are under contract to the sport’s dominant promoters — Zuffa (UFC) and Bellator, which account for 11 of the fighters on TRT. Although only a small fraction, the number of exemptions still dwarfs what can be found in other sports:
– The International Olympic Committee did not issue a single testosterone exemption for the 2012 London Olympics, which featured 5,892 male athletes.
– The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued one testosterone exemption last year among the thousands of elite-level athletes under its jurisdiction.
– Major League Baseball has issued six exemptions to athletes over the past six seasons — an average of 1,200 players populate its rosters each season.
– National Football League officials say testosterone exemptions are “very rare” and only a “handful” have been issued since 1990. Nearly 2,000 players circulate through rosters each season.
– No pro boxer is known to have had an exemption issued through a state athletic commission, and Nevada officials said they have never even received an application.
“It’s a huge number,” said Dr. Don Catlin, the country’s leading anti-doping expert, of the MMA testosterone exemptions. “I am on the IOC committee that reviews [therapeutic-use exemptions for testosterone] requests. We essentially grant none. But in boxing and MMA there is no central control. There is no set of rules that everybody has to follow.
“There is a set of rules for each [state athletic commission], but they are kind of Mickey Mouse rules. So the route to being able to take testosterone is wide open. … You go in and say ‘I have these symptoms.’ The doc says, ‘Oh yeah, you got low testosterone.’ You get a TUE.”
Along with exemptions, several MMA fighters and officials also described to “Outside the Lines” widespread use of performance-enhancing substances in the sport. One top contender labeled PED use in the sport “rampant,” and a prominent state athletic commission chairman matter-of-factly acknowledged: “We got some doping going on in MMA.”
A few state commissions where MMA fights occur less frequently acknowledged they don’t test for PEDs or don’t require fighters to reveal whether they are being treated with testosterone. Nor, apparently, does any state — including Nevada, arguably the most influential commission and a model for other regulators — require notice in a bout agreement of an individual having an exemption to use testosterone, so an opponent is left to learn through the rumor mill, if at all.

Drug testing in MMA is confined to postfight by the state athletic commissions that test for performance-enhancing substances, with Nevada believed to be the only commission attempting out-of-competition testing. The UFC also does some of its own testing, although officials declined comment and little is known about the program. By comparison, major pro leagues such as the NFL and MLB — in part as a result of urging from Congress — engage in far more rigorous programs that include testing at the start of camp or spring training as well as year-round, random testing.
“Outside the Lines” found the average age of the MMA fighters when granted their first testosterone exemption was 32 — the youngest 24. The majority enjoyed exemptions from multiple states, and, in some instances, fighters were found to have simply informed a commission they were on TRT rather than filing a formal application to compete while being treated with testosterone.
U.S. and international anti-doping agencies insist therapeutic-use exemptions for testosterone should be rare and permitted only in dire medical cases such as testicular cancer and Hodgkin’s disease, as is the norm in most major sports. The international standard for an exemption specifically states that “low-normal” levels of a hormone isn’t justification for granting approval, also noting the same of isolated symptoms such as fatigue, slow recovery from exercise and decreased libido.
Dr. Richard Auchus, a leading endocrinologist and University of Michigan professor of internal medicine, described the incidence of low testosterone or what is known as hypogonadism in healthy 30-year-olds as “vanishingly small” — or well less than 0.1 percent.
“What people have to understand is a [testosterone exemption] is granted for a disease, not for a [low] lab value,” said Auchus, a consultant to USADA. “If you say idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, meaning ‘I don’t know why you have it, but you have low testosterone production and there is nothing wrong with your testes’ — well, that can happen because you are taking exogenous androgen [steroids]. That doesn’t cut it.”
The issue, said Catlin, is that synthetic testosterone remains one of the favorite drugs to enhance performance. Anti-doping leaders thus fear testosterone exemptions might be used by athletes to dope under the disguise of legitimate medical need.
“It’s just a farce that is perpetuated in MMA,” said Catlin, who developed the test used to differentiate an individual’s natural testosterone from the synthetic version. “It is doping. It is cheating. It is both.”
‘I feel condemned right now. And I am doing everything legal’
Belfort, dubbed “The Phenom” from the early days of his pro career, says life has never been better, inside or outside the octagon. A sweaty, tightly muscled figure, he chugged from a Muscle Milk bottle and playfully fussed over his two young daughters — Victoria, 6; and Kyara, 4 — after a recent grueling gym workout with his Blackzilian fight team in Boca Raton, Fla.
“Eighteen years doing this, my friend,” Belfort told a reporter. “Eighteen years — combat sport. I think you will not find this in history, I believe.”
When prodded, Belfort (24-10, winner of eight of his past 10 fights — seven via KO or TKO) insists the synthetic testosterone regimen hasn’t fueled his longevity or late-career revival, which he describes at one point as “devastating people” and “taking guys’ heads off.” He called the injections a legal, necessary treatment, not an enhancement — much like insulin for a diabetic. The injections raise his hormone levels back to healthy, normal levels. Without them, he couldn’t make a living.

Belfort, who tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone in 2006, cast himself as the most transparent, drug-tested athlete in the sport. “I am telling you, many fighters [are] out there doing drugs, enhancement drugs,” he said. “And they don’t get tested for it. They don’t get tested in camp. I do. … Other people do TRT and they never go public. I am not ashamed. I am very loyal to my principles. And that is what I do.”
“We have, like, tons of fighters with TRT,” Belfort said. “It looks like just me. … I feel condemned right now. And I am doing everything legal.”
Yet Belfort, who is training for a late May title fight with middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 in Las Vegas, looms ominously over a sport maneuvering through the TRT conundrum. Belfort is expected to appeal to the Nevada State Athletic Commission for an exemption to stay on testosterone therapy for the Weidman fight, which is complicated by the fact that the same commission suspended him in 2006 after a positive steroid test.
Belfort has been a lightning rod, even with his past five fights staged outside the country — including four in his native Brazil, where he’s been allowed to fight under TRT by a Brazilian commission loosely aligned with his UFC promoter. The medical director, Dr. Marcio Tannure, also has been retained independently at times by the UFC. According to Belfort, the Brazilian doctor also has a role in an unrelated DNA study the fighter is participating in.
Dr. Tannure and UFC officials refused multiple interview requests for this story, even after asking for and receiving written questions. When the fighters were receiving testosterone exemptions, 11 of 15 were promoted by Zuffa LLC, which encompasses UFC and Strikeforce. UFC President Dana White has been inconsistent in interviews about the exemptions, saying most recently that they should be banned. But that comment came only a few months after saying the opposite.
White’s latest change of heart followed the Association of Ringside Physicians’ call last month for the elimination of testosterone exemptions in combat sports — a motion pushed by Las Vegas-based board member Dr. Margaret Goodman, founder of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.

In the wake of the recommendation as well as in anticipation of Belfort’s application, the Nevada commission plans to review its TRT policy in a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, raising the possibility it could decide to eliminate testosterone exemptions. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta responded, saying the promoter would continue to defer to the judgment of athletic commissions with regard to TRT.
But, although the state athletic commissions and not the UFC ultimately grant exemptions, the MMA promotional giant has at times played a role in leading fighters down a path to TRT. Belfort volunteered that it was a “UFC doctor” who started his testosterone regimen in 2011 — similar to a 2012 claim by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who said a UFC doctor referred him to an age-management specialist. Sources also told “Outside the Lines” that the UFC encouraged heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson to see a doctor about TRT, although he eventually opted not to after having lab work done in 2010. Nelson declined multiple interview requests for this story.
“Outside the Lines” also obtained a 2010 letter to Dr. Jeff Davidson, a UFC medical consultant and former Nevada commission ringside doctor, from a Las Vegas physician thanking him for his referral of MMA fighter Todd Duffee. The doctor prescribed Testosterone Cypionate for the then 24-year-old, whose “extreme fatigue” was diagnosed as caused by “secondary hypogonadism.”
Also, a doctor for Chael Sonnen wrote Davidson regarding the middleweight’s TRT regime in 2010 — a year before there is a record of his having formally applied with a state regulator for an exemption. Dr. Mark Czarnecki apologized for the handwritten letter, noting “apparently Dana needs the information ASAP.” “Dana” is presumed to be UFC president White, and the letter details Sonnen’s use of testosterone since a 2008 diagnosis of hypogonadism.
In a later instance, anti-aging specialist Dr. John Pierce wrote in 2012 advising Davidson and Greg Hendrick, then director of event operations for UFC, that fighter Frank Mir had been diagnosed with hypogonadism and had already started on a regimen of Testosterone Cypionate. That was 10 weeks before Pierce wrote the Nevada commission about the diagnosis and start of care, according to commission records obtained by “Outside the Lines.”
Belfort revealed that he also has been under the care of Pierce, although Belfort said Pierce is not the “UFC doctor” who offered his initial diagnosis. Records also identify Pierce as the doctor who referred and evaluated the lab work for Nelson in 2010.
Asked when he began testosterone-replacement therapy, Belfort initially told “Outside the Lines” it was before a loss in early 2011 to then middleweight champion Anderson Silva, then corrected himself and said it was after the fight. “It was one of the doctors from UFC,” he said, speaking of his low testosterone diagnosis. “He asked me to do a bunch of tests. … He said, ‘Man, you don’t have the energy.’
“I said, ‘Yeah.’
“He said, ‘Yeah, ’cause you are having an issue.’ So then we started doing some treatment.”
Belfort struggled in an interview to describe the cause of his low testosterone, other than to offer that he had felt rundown and tired. “It is like a dysfunction of the hormones, and it can cause your immune system to go down and it can cover a lot of things,” he said. “If I don’t do it [testosterone-replacement therapy], I am actually at a disadvantage. People don’t know that.”

Belfort referred questions regarding a more detailed explanation to medical professionals, including Pierce, medical director of the Ageless Forever clinic — which sits five miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.
“Quite frankly, he has hypogonadism,” Pierce said, hesitating initially. “Now why is that caused? I don’t know. More than likely it is secondary to repetitive head trauma over the years.”
Pierce issued a similar diagnosis about Mir on his TUE application to the Nevada commission, writing that he had a “history of head trauma … inherent nature of his chosen career path is head trauma. Patient has had at least one loss of consciousness from head trauma.”
Pierce said the most reasonable cause of low testosterone in a combat athlete, as well as a football player, is repetitive head injury resulting in damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary in the brain, which affects the release of natural testosterone. But “Outside the Lines” found no boxers having been granted a testosterone exemption — in fact, Nevada officials said they had never received a request. And the NFL says it has granted a minuscule number over almost three decades.
To Pierce’s point, researchers have documented pituitary dysfunction as result of head trauma in battered children, as well as victims of severe car accident and soldiers injured in war, but medical experts caution that in most cases individuals suffered an extreme injury, often accompanied by cerebral hemorrhage.
As for MMA fighters, medical experts question the logic of allowing someone diagnosed as suffering head trauma to step back in an MMA octagon. It would figure there’d also be some signs of cognitive problems. At the very least, a full CAT scan should be done to rule out permanent damage or anything catastrophic, they said.
Some experts further challenge the notion of head trauma triggering the shutdown or reduction of testosterone production in MMA fighters, noting that multiple hormones likely would be affected by damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary — not just the production of testosterone.
Four endocrinologists and neuropathologists interviewed by “Outside the Lines” also said they were unaware of any controlled studies in which it had been shown head trauma in an athlete had shut down hormone production. The only definitive way to make such an observation is to autopsy brains after death, and an expert in the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in athletes indicated research to date had recorded no such hormone deficiencies.
“There doesn’t appear to be any direct evidence from what I can see that that would be an answer for why they would have hypogonadism,” said Dr. Ronald Hamilton, a Pittsburgh-based neuropathologist who has reviewed brain autopsies of former NFL players. “This kind of [hormonal] change has not been noted in autopsies of CTE patients.”
‘It is obviously advantageous if you are on it’
Michael “The Count” Bisping probably knows best what a shot of testosterone can do, although by all accounts he hasn’t dabbled in the stuff himself.
The British middleweight (24-5) has suffered the misfortune of having been in the octagon against three fighters benefiting from testosterone exemptions: Dan Henderson, Sonnen and Belfort, accomplished veterans in their mid to late 30s at the time. He lost to them all, done in twice by KO or TKO — the first of his career.

“It is obviously advantageous if you are on it,” said Bisping, dropped by a Belfort leg kick in January 2013. “Look at somebody like Vitor — you know he failed a drug test [in 2006]. And one side effect of taking steroids is reduction of testosterone production. So now he is being rewarded for cheating in the past. You also have to understand that, as your body gets older, certain parts slow down a little. On the flip side of it, you also got more ring experience.
“These older guys have had 30 or 40 professional fights, so they have more experience, plus they got the scientific supplementation. It is ridiculous. Of course, we’re also not trying to hit a ball with a bat or throw it in a hoop. We’re trying to knock our opponents out. So somebody is going to get hurt one day.”
Indeed, the safety issue is dicey in a combat sport in which the endgame is inflicting enough bodily harm to send an opponent into submission — occasionally via a blow to the head.
But whether naive or merely oblivious to the rumor mill, 34-year-old Bisping claims he was ignorant of his past opponents’ testosterone exemptions when he stepped in the octagon. His suspicions about Belfort perked up after their 2013 fight in Sao Paulo.
“With Vitor Belfort, there was a whole cloud of secrecy regarding his drug test,” Bisping said. “A lot of people saying he failed it. So I was obviously very intrigued and I contacted the UFC and they said, ‘No, he hasn’t failed it, but he did have a TRT exemption certificate.”‘
Only a month after the fight, amid a firestorm of rumors, the UFC issued a statement revealing Belfort had been on a medically approved TRT regimen under the supervision of a Nevada physician. Coming two years after Belfort now acknowledges having begun TRT, the release said the regimen had been initiated after a diagnosis of “hypogonadism, or low testosterone.”
Despite his current hardened stance, Bisping said he likely would not have balked at challenging Belfort even had he known of his testosterone supplementation. He said, though, that friends told him after the fight of having feared for his well-being because of the “sheer size” of Belfort.
“The guy was so heavily muscled,” Bisping said. “At the time, you are a fighter and you believe you are going to win. So I never thought about it. Looking back, you can clearly see he was on something stronger than a frosty shake.”
Nor is the fiery Brit the lone voice of suspicion in a sport in which doping has evolved through the years — as in many others — from hard-core steroids to growth hormone and designer drugs. Or what one UFC contender referred to collectively as “blue gasoline — the extra fuel.”
The twist is that no other sport appears to have so freely handed out passes to TRT.

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DragonFest Tickets Available

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Get your DragonFest tickets today this is going to be an event not to be missed. May 18th, 2014 Burbank Holiday Inn Burbank, CA

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Joey Hefferle THE CELTIC PREDATOR By: Carrie Riedel

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