The Measures Of Defeat

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To believe there’d ever been a heyday for sportsmanship would be a naive, if not negligent position on the way individuals value winning. Cheating could very well be an integral part in the way athletes perform and succeed in their given sport. While baseball, the Olympics, and soccer leagues have been battling against performance enhancing drugs for years, MMA has recently come under scrutiny. The fact that it is such a fledgling sport, which is just rising to cultural prominence, can be a contributing factor in the “loose” regulations. And though the sport of MMA, in particular the UFC, have cracked down on dopers in the past few years, other MMA promotions still struggle to ensure that athletes are fighting fair.

What must be looked at is the propensity for success in dopers – as it will gravely impact the way so many interpret the idea of “performance enchantment.” What does it mean to take any measure necessary to avoid defeat? Obviously coming out victorious advances careers, brings in higher wages, and helps the lucky few garner accolades beyond an average person’s reach. But can a line clearly be drawn between cheating and gaining the victory? What must be speculated on is the pattern of use versus the percentage of success. It may seem unnecessary, but it’s still important to objectively ask: How dominant are these cheaters?

For those few who don’t know, the USADA is the regulatory body that tests for in-competition and out-of-competition violations. The protocols put in place by this anti-doping league ensures that fairness and integrity take top priority when it comes to performing athletically. Performance enhancing drugs or PED’s affect the way the body builds strength and muscle, while improving speed and weight management. Some drugs limit water retention or inhibit estrogen. Helping with endurance, as well as recovery, especially when injured, can have a significant affect on a performance come fight night. PEDs are also used to elevate testosterone, which heightens strength and aggression.

Although it was recorded in 2014 that there were only 5 busts, seven years earlier the world of MMA was rocked with 14 failed drug tests. Even more phenomenal, was the propensity for the fighters who tested positive to lose those fights. Of the cases in 2014, Brian Ortega may be the one standout, as he was undefeated until his victory was overturned to a No Contest. Kevin Casey hadn’t faired too poorly in lower leagues and then came up to the UFC, won his first bout, and immediately failed his post-fight drug test. He never truly came back. Herman Terrado was coming off a loss, and perhaps felt he needed the extra boost, only to fight his way to a Draw before being busted. Piotr Hallman also lost his bout before testing positive. He’d won his previous fight, but went on to lose the rest in the UFC, and thus had his contract cut.

From this, one can attain that PEDs only take an athlete so far. Perhaps it is the mix of drugs with God-given talent that truly makes a difference. It’s one thing to see some of these lesser-known fighters squeaking out a win or performing well, but it seems a whole other realm when top contenders get busted.

To that extent, Kelvin Gastelum has been on a tear. That was, until he got hit with an anti-doping charge after his extraordinary win over Vitor Belfort. Belfort himself hasn’t been without his troubles. Having dispatched such phenomenal athletes as Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson, and Michael Bisping, he turned an amazing comeback and win streak into a mark of shame after being unable to keep his momentum once he was told he could no longer use supplements such as TRT. Ever since being pulled off them he’s gone two-and-six. It’s intriguing to observe the propensity of the winning average of fighters who are caught cheating.

The question arises: when did they start using? Have they always done it and just happened to get caught? Or are they first time offenders? The latter is hard to believe. From Brock Lesnar, to Cris Cyborg, and even Chael Sonnen, winning and remaining a contender have become rather dubious situations. Mark Hunt (who lost to Lesnar), Michael Bisping, and many purists have brought up the issue of fighting an opponent using PEDs. It’s terribly disconcerting seeing users come out on top, as it displaces rankings and contender-ship. Cheating also has an impact on the way the sport is respected.

Anderson Silva beat Nick Diaz, and the decision was turned to No Contest, of course after both tested positive. Chad Mendes got hit with an out-of-competition violation. Of course, he’d just come off a loss to Frankie Edgar, and before that Connor McGregor. So, it’s tough to say the direct results of PED use. Of course, there is no defending a cheater. There is absolutely no excuse for someone to take advantage by trying to swindle his or her way to the top.

Speculating on a timeline of PED busts between the years 2007 to January 2016, and taking a sample of 50 fighters, we see that 23 won, 21 lost, 2 went to draw, and 4 happened out of competition.

If a fighter has a significantly higher chance, or percentage of winning, while abusing substances then the UFC, and MMA as a whole, have much bigger problems on hand than anyone is willing to admit.


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