“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…” After a tough 2014, the Dickens quote seems to be appropriate for the UFC’s start to 2015. On the one side they have had a very successful start to the year. It began with a bang with UFC 182, then followed with Conor McGregor’s official emergence as a star, and finally UFC 183 to conclude the first month of the year.
Then there is the other side. One that is darker and unsavory. First, Jon Jones gets popped for cocaine, then Nick Diaz tested positive for weed, no surprise there but the shocker came when Anderson Silva also tested positive for two different PEDs. It will not be the end of the UFC but it has the potential to hurt them if they do not handle things correctly. It could send the rest of this year into a tailspin and it seems like that is the direction that UFC President Dana White’s arrogance is leading them.
The Jones’ drug test was an out of competition one and since cocaine is not banned out of competition the NSAC had no jurisdiction to levy any punishment to him. Dana’s explanation for letting him fight was that the UFC had to let Jones fight otherwise he could have sued them.
I am no legal expert nor do I play one on TV but it seems unreasonable to say that a person popped for an illegal drug has a legal right to fight. Especially when the UFC put out a statement saying that any fighter in the future whose corner does not wear the official Reebok uniform will be barred from fighting. Honestly, what kind of organization are you running? Some adult warped catholic school where illegal drugs are okay but not certain T-shirts and shorts.
We all know the real reason they let the Jones and Daniel Cormier fight happen and it was money. They were coming off one of their worst PPV years. There was their second cancellation of a PPV with UFC 176 after Jose Aldo’s injury, and another PPV with a fighter making his debut in a title fight when Joe Soto replaced an injured Renan Barao to challenge T.J. Dillashaw.
Much of their problems in 2014 were a part of the sport going through a few growing pains. A big reason that they struggled in the PPV department was because they were missing two of their biggest PPV stars in Silva and George St-Pierre. Given the loss of those two stars, injuries to several champions, one high-profile fighter running away from a drug test in Wanderlei Silva, another in Chael Sonnen testing positive for PEDs, and a massive expansion in cards there were bound to be some problems. People often forget that the UFC is still a teenager compared to the other professional sports.
It seemed like the UFC had the right answer to turn things around in 2015. They put together a series of stacked cards to start the year. When UFC 182 concluded it looked like they were heading towards a bounce back year. It only took a few days for that to start to unravel as the Jones’ drug test results became public. While Jones has tried to portray a more Zack like lifestyle but in reality he is closer to Screech. That is the reason that people where not shocked by his positive test. It was just one more incident in a series of them that have slowly revealed Jones’ true nature, despite his best efforts to keep that nature from the fans.
The irony of it all is that if Jones were to stop trying to be something he is clearly not capable of being and just embrace his true self sharing it with the fans he would very likely gain the popularity he so desperately seeks.
As the UFC dealt with the fallout of the Jones’ drug test it bounced back nicely with the McGregor centered card in Boston. It was one of their best events on FOX and cemented McGregor as a legit star and locked up his title shot. Some fans have an issue with him and his title shot but they just feed into his popularity because his haters are so passionate about it. The UFC does not care if you are watching to see someone kick his ass they just care that you are watching.
The following weekend the UFC on FOX 14 card went down in Sweden with Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson in the main event. This was to determine the next challenger for Jones and his belt. With an exciting first round TKO finish, Johnson moved into the number one contender spot.
The significant wins by Johnson and McGregor seemed to help the whole Jones’ drug test fade away. That quickly came back after UFC 183 with both Silva and Diaz testing positive. As I mentioned before no one was even slightly surprise to find out Diaz tested positive for weed but Silva was a true shocker for many.
What is not surprising is Dana’s response which is to allow Silva to continue to coach TUF Brazil, citing that he has never tested positive before and they will allow the process to play out. What Dana is really saying is that we just got our big cash-cow star back and we want to milk him as much as we can before this all blows up. He knows that even if the results are upheld and they have to remove Silva from TUF after it has started filming it will create a lot of interest in the show.
Dana’s claim that because Silva had never tested positive before is a hollow claim to me. Sure he has never tested positive on any of his scheduled drug tests. In fact, you have to be a special kind of stupid in this day and age to fail a post fight drug test. You know who else never failed a drug test? Lance Armstrong, that is who. Does anyone think he is clean? It is troubling that Silva failed one of the first unscheduled tests he took.
I do not know whether or not Silva took PEDs but having two different steroids showing up on the test is not good. There is a part of me that hopes he is truly innocent but the cynical side is afraid that it is true. If Silva is guilty it will hurt his legacy to some degree with some of the fans. It will hurt the UFC a little as well as they would be losing their big star just as they were getting him back – but it will not decimate them.
The real trouble will be if this is just the beginning of it all. If more UFC fighters keep testing positive then they will have a big problem on their hands. It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few weeks. Let me know below or on Twitter what your thoughts are on the issue. Is this turning you away from the sport? Or did you assume that PEDs were already a huge part of the sport?
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