The UFC’s anti-doping program can be a bummer for fans, but does that mean we’d be better off without it? Plus, did we all get what we deserved, in one way or another, with the main event scratch at UFC 215?
All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.
Those are all pretty frustrating, though when you group them together like that it does make the “money fight” phenomenon seem a lot less annoying, because at least that one results in a fight.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency thing is a different matter. With some of the recent suspensions, I think a lot of people have started to wonder just how clean they really need this sport to be. We don’t want to feel like every main event is a glorified science experiment, but would that be better than no main events at all?
Plus, people are starting to wonder whether USADA is really catching dopers and cheats, or just a bunch of careless supplement shoppers. Of course, then we’d have to ask ourselves why it is that MMA fighters seem so prone to accidentally ingesting steroids, when other sports don’t seem to have the same problem, or at least not this often.
It really comes down to a simple question: Do we care about fighters doping or not? If we do, then I’m not sure we really want to complain that USADA is doing too good a job at catching them. Whatever you think of how that turinabol got in Jon Jones’ system, the positive B sample tells us that it was there. Until there’s a test developed that can tell us if someone actually meant to cheat, we have to accept that result and move on.
Unless you’re in the camp that says we shouldn’t care about doping. And, honestly, I can see how some people might be feeling that way right now. Wouldn’t it be more fun for fans if a bunch of awesomely doped-up fighters smashed each other with all manner of spinning stuff well into their forties?
And, yeah, that would probably be fun to watch, at least as long as you could ignore the human costs associated with it. A sport where doping is allowed will quickly become a sport where doping is required. Some drugs might speed your recovery time from nagging injuries, but they won’t do a thing to protect your brain from the consequences of all this trauma.
That’s exactly what has happened in the hours since you asked this question, although it wasn’t necessarily an automatic move. The outcome of the fight is handled by the commission, but the belt is the UFC’s. The promotion can do what it likes with it, as California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster confirmed when I spoke to him last week.
The options here were limited. Either you give the light heavyweight belt back to Daniel Cormier, or you leave it vacant until someone can officially win it.
But does Cormier feel like the champ? Maybe, if you can convince yourself that Jones only beat him (both times) with some help from performance-enhancing drugs. If you’re more willing to buy any combination of tainted supplement defenses, it gets a little tougher.
The real problem for Cormier’s title legitimacy is that there’s almost nothing he can realistically do about it. He’s already beaten most of the other top 205-pounders, so any victory over a light heavyweight not named Jon Jones will just feel like rehashing old arguments rather proving something new. That’s a tough spot to be in, especially when you’re the one who didn’t do anything wrong.
Ha, good one. As if Dana White could “make” Conor McGregor do anything he doesn’t want to do right now.
Seems like Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg is slated for UFC 216 now, assuming Borg can steer clear of viral illnesses in the meantime. If that holds, it’ll mean the top three bouts look like this:
- Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee
- Johnson vs. Borg
- Derrick Lewis vs. Fabricio Werdum
I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me. Now we just have to hope all those fights are still on the card come Oct. 7.
It’s tricky, because one of the first questions we have to ask is who would issue the ban.
The penalties under the UFC’s current anti-doping program are pretty stiff, with suspensions potentially doubling after each offense. But if the ban came from USADA and the UFC, then the UFC would pretty much have to release the fighter from his contract. If that happened with someone like Jones, you know Bellator would be blowing up his phone trying to cut a deal.
Even if a lifetime ban came from an athletic commission and made it impossible to get a license, that wouldn’t stop someone like Jones from ending up in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve, fighting a sumo wrestler in a one-night tournament (and the wind whispered: “Baruto…”).
Try, for a moment, to imagine that as a bad thing rather than a good one.
If you’re referring to this explanation, it leaves a little to be desired. Amanda Nunes repeatedly extended the fingers of her outstretched hand while fighting Valentina Shevchenko. John McCarthy would warn her, she’d stop for a little while, then she’d do it again.
I can see how someone might argue that as long as there’s no problem as long as there’s no actual eye poke, but that seems flawed to me. If you’re standing there with your fingers outstretched in the general region of my face, I have to weigh the possibility of getting poked when I consider coming forward.
And if I do get my retinas jabbed, hey, you might lose a point, but I might lose full vision for a few minutes or more. That could be enough of an advantage for you that the penalty on the scorecards doesn’t matter.
Maybe a little, but close fights always seem to bring out the worst in us. Georges St-Pierre was super popular when he won that decision over Johny Hendricks in his last UFC fight, and still we had to watch Dana White’s head change colors as he called for the governor of Nevada to look into the state athletic commission.
Shevchenko can be mad if she wants, but if she’s watched this sport for any length of time I don’t see how she can be surprised. She spent most of the fight trying to counter with her back nearly touching the fence. I’m not saying you can’t win a decision that way, but you can just as easily lose one if you don’t make it super clear that you’re the one doing the damage.
Francis Ngannou. He’s a heavyweight, and fans love the big guys. He’s also relatively young (31), so you could still get some mileage out of him. Plus he’s never lost in the UFC, so Dana White can’t claim that he’s on the way down and Bellator’s only reviving the rejects.
Ngannou is a huge dude who puts people away and dresses like a particularly rad Bond villain. If properly hyped, you could do a lot with a guy like that.
What, you didn’t hear? It was a “viral illness.” Nothing at all to do with the weight cut. It just so happened to hit him as he was cutting weight, which is itself a process that hasn’t gone well for him recently. What a coincidence.
People have jumped on this turn of events as proof that Johnson should have fought T.J. Dillashaw instead. What they forget is that Dillashaw has never made 125 pounds in the UFC, whereas Borg has at least proven that he can do it some of the time.
Also, let’s not forget that Johnson was willing to take the fight if the UFC would give him certain financial guarantees in the event that Dillashaw didn’t make the weight. That’s probably because Johnson was smart enough to anticipate a situation just like this, where he trains but doesn’t get paid, and now has to do it all over again a month from now.
My prediction for this one was that we’d all complain until the fight got closer, in part because it feels like we’ve been hearing about this fight for years now, but once fight time arrived we’d get at least a little bit hyped. I still think that’s what will happen, and you’re right that the complete lack of other big fights on the horizon has a lot to do with it.
Is this a kind of silly fight? Yes. Are there much better things that the middleweight champ could be doing, now that we have a wealth of middleweight contenders? Absolutely. Does that mean I’ll sit out the return of GSP? Not on your life.
Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie