The UFC held a press conference yesterday to outline their new strategy in dealing with performance enhancing drugs in the sport and their competition. As you can imagine in a sport where you're going toe to toe with another human who is eager to beat you to a pulp, having an advantage thanks to PED's isn't just unfair, it's scary.
The outcome of that press conference was that the UFC would do more drug tests and that punishments would be harsher, very simply put. It's not a simple task as it isn't the UFC who conduct drug tests, they have to pay a suitable organisation to do the job which isn't exactly a cheap task.
While the use of PED's has been widespread in the UFC over the past few years, it's important to note that the recent failed tests from Jon Jones and Nate Diaz who fought Anderson Silva were not due to PED's. Jones dabbled in some cocaine and Diaz test positive for marijuana, which is legal in many states in the United States and many countries around the world. While both these guys got a bit too close to the 'out of competition/in competition' line, what they did wasn't related to PED's.
Obviously it's not a good look, but it's not as bad a look as the issue of PED's. News that Silva tested positive after coming back from a broken leg shook the MMA world, but it serves as a reminder that many fighters feel like they can beat the system. Which is the problem.
With a more thorough testing regime and 'if you use PED's, you will be caught' mentality, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. It could go two ways as we could see the testing scare off those who think they can win against the system, but we could also see the testing work which would lead to more fighters testing positive. That doesn't mean that there's more and more fighters using PED's, but that the testing is working and outing those who thought they could win.
So be warned, there might be a few more positive tests when the new system is put in to action from July 1st.
It's complicated as well because of all the different 'Athletic Commissions' there are who oversee the fights in their respective states. The UFC has to lobby these commission's to hand out harsher punishments and implement their own thorough testing regimes, but the UFC also has to hand out their own heavy punishments as well as take greater responsibility for testing.
The vibe from the UFC is that PED use has reached the point where they simply have to step their game up. They've talked a big one so it's now up to them to put their words in to action.
Just like your old beat up Toyota C-Rolla, there were two different paint jobs on this day though. On May 23 at UFC 187 we will see Jon Jones defend his title against Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson in a title fight for the ages after Rumble dispatched of Alex Gustafsson a few weeks ago. You've got Rumble who is explosive, so much power and in hot form against Jones who surely must be knee deep in hard work to get the dramas of the past few months off his back.
Hold up, waaaaaaaaaaaait, there's also Chris Weidman defending his title against Vitor Belfort. Weidman looks to be a suitable replacement for Silva as the middleweight champ, but Belfort is on a three fight win streak. Throw in to the mix an epic battle between the much hyped Khabib Nurmagomedov up against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone, which will almost serve as a conteder's fight for the lightweight belt.
There's a few more exciting fights for this card, but those three fights did enough to offer some sort of positive on a day where the biggest negative in the sport was addressed. All eyes were on the UFC to see what they would come up with to counter the PED use, they did what they had to do. It's a lot easier to back up your words with a stacked fight card than it is in the fight against PED's though.