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The Death of a Combat Sport




With the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) hearing for Anderson “The Spider” Silva looming, there are many questions awaiting answers. The first one that comes to mind is the question the overwhelming majority of his peers and fans are asking: “Can this be real?” If the answer is yes, it will be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The longtime UFC Middleweight Champion is widely considered to be the greatest mixed-martial arts fighter of all time, and a true ambassador for the sport. So when news broke that Silva had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) in his January bout with Nick Diaz, it felt like a sick joke. How could a man who always abided by the rules, a man who inspired so many young men and women to chase their dreams, even be accused of such a shameful act? Surely it must be some kind of mistake, perhaps an error in the lab work. But when you look at the staggering number of fighters that have been caught using steroids or other PED’s in the past, the nightmare may very well be a reality, and the future of this great sport appears to be in jeopardy.

So how many MMA fighters take PED’s? The list of known offenders is rather extensive, but the real number could be anyone’s guess. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan calls the situation an “epidemic”, and estimates that possibly half of the industry’s competitors could be using some sort of PED. It’s a frightening thought, especially in a sport where the level of physicality is extremely high. A fighter who competes on steroids is not only endangering themselves and their opponent, but also the already misconstrued image of MMA.

Since the inaugural UFC event in November of 1993, outsiders have pegged mixed-martial arts as a barbaric, unforgiving bloodsport. In fact, in the early years, that wasn’t too far from the truth. Headbutts, groin shots, and kicks to a downed opponent were all legal, and men sometimes battled behemoths three times their size. But thankfully those dark days are behind us with new rules implemented, and a stronger emphasis on the masterful technique involved. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, a fascinating spectacle that has finally started to gain positive recognition over the years. PED’s directly affect that image in a negative manner, hindering the sport’s progress and supporting the opinions of naysayers.

The greatest part about combat sports is the competitive aspect, the notion that once it’s all said and done, the better man is victorious. There’s just something exhilarating about watching two professional athletes use their natural abilities to overcome adversity in a strategic battle of technique. But with the growing presence of PED’s in this sport comes that dark shadow that was once cast upon it, a black plague that will squeeze the life out of MMA if no resolution is found.

Did the legend Anderson Silva really use PED’s? That is one of many questions that will be answered on August 13th, as the NSAC presents their case against him. Difficult as it may be to believe these accusations, the facts will be revealed soon, and if he is in fact guilty, it could be the death of mixed-martial arts as we know it.

– Jeremey Kappler


I am new to writing professionally, but passionate and eager to learn and improve. I am an MMA enthusiast and casual football fan. 30 with a beautiful 3-year-old son who motivates me everyday. Follow me on Twitter! @MMA_Scribe

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