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Wednesday, 04/11/2012, 05:55 pm

Cheating in MMA: What’s an advantage?


By Edward Fernandez:
Many fight fans have been talking about PEDs in the past week. With you-know-who testing 14:1, but with he-who-shall-not-be-named testing higher in the past, yet still getting a shot at “The Spider” this summer, what is considered fair?

I like reading your comments, as a fight fan and a writer. It’s interesting to see what other opinions are out there, or if you guys even care at all. I’ve seen both types of responses lately. I see the “PEDs are cheating, horrible for the sport” remarks, while reading “they should have a PED league” right below. (By the way, I’m sure not all fight fans are serious in their opinions on the web and I take that into consideration).

However, I can’t help but notice that “clean” fighters are now coming out and saying that PEDs and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is a form of cheating. I’m not here to point fingers, but there are other loop holes, for a lack of a better term, that could arguably be an advantage in sports as well.

Does Tiger Woods obtaining 20/15 vision post LASIK surgery count as an unfair advantage? Wasn’t it right after his surgery the era began where he started leaving players in the dust? Depth perception is key in any sport, golf and MMA especially. But not all athletes have perfect vision. Yes, they should get the same procedure as Tiger, it would probably improve their game. But that’s like saying women with imperfect mammaries should get surgery, and sadly not all choose to.
Is having a surgically repaired tendon or joint that is stronger than ever considered an advantage? Wouldn’t an athlete with such a body component be able to train longer and harder than others? And is weighing 15-25 pounds more than your opponent on fight-night a plausible advantage? Sure, the argument is your opponent should drop a weight class, but couldn’t you go up a weight class so all fighters are at the most even weight?

The point I’m trying to make is: let’s not draw the line with our eyes closed. Remember, we are in the cage fighting business. With so many new medical advances and skeptical training regiments making their way from the labs to the cage, who are we to blame? The fighter? The trainer? Technology? The UFC authorities and doctors? The commissions for allowing such hazy limits, illegal drugs, and questionable ranges?

Some may argue that a mixed martial artist should always know what is in their body. Well some of these MMA stars don’t fancy themselves martial artists. They fancy themselves fighters, their purpose is to hurt you. And a fighter can get egotistical, narrow minded, and caught up in the money, the fame, and the ability to dangle multiple foreign women from their biceps. I’m not saying all fighters are like this. But when you are constantly in the mind set of “I’m the best, and I’ll do whatever it takes to be the best,” you lose track of what got you where you are: your morals, values and heart.

Note: do not mistake this as an excuse for any fighters. This is simply an eye opener for what a fragile fighter’s mind set might be like. On the other hand, un-fragile minds might just say, “screw it, let’s knock someone out, pass me that bong with a side of needles.”

As you may have heard the California State Athletic Commission just voted to approve therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), with medical marijuana and TRT in mind. This sounds like a step in the wrong direction in light of recent events. The timing could not have been worse for UFC authorities trying to put an end to the drama and misuse of drugs. And the timing could not have been better for athletes that “have” or want to “apply” for a TUE.

The UFC needs to step in and set their own rules or accept the fact that every state’s commission is going to be different. Does that mean fighters with particular TUEs or certain “levels” not be eligible to fight in stricter states?

If Dana White had a hotline, I would be waiting in line to ask so many questions, his ears would fatigue. The UFC has a lot of decisions to make, not only about this upcoming heavyweight title fight, but about the future and safety of their athletes’ health and their opponent’s health as well. As a fight fan, I have so many questions for the future, and just not enough answers.

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