One got fired and one stayed hired.
That's pretty much all the public has to go on when trying to understand the difference between Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen, two UFC middleweights who ran afoul of state athletic commissions due to their Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
Marquardt failed his pre-fight medical exam prior to the UFC on Versus 4 event last weekend in Pittsburgh, leaving the promotion in a last-minute scramble to find a new main event after the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission barred him from competing.
Last August, Sonnen was pinched in a post-fight drug test following a submission loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 117 in Oakland, California, earning himself a six-month suspension from the fight game.
So why did two fighters, both guilty of mismanaging their TRT treatments, receive different punishments? What's the difference between Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen?
UFC President Dana White explains his reasoning to ESPN.co.uk:
"The difference between Chael and Marquardt is we can talk about everything with the Chael incident. I've seen the stuff people are saying, like I'm this crazy, emotional psycho. Give me a break. This isn't the first time [for Marquardt]. To me, this is his fourth chance. He tested positive before [for anabolic steroids in 2006]. Then, he was apparently on suspension for New Jersey. Then he comes to [UFC Live in Pennsylvania] and doesn't pass his medicals. You tell me, is that his fourth chance? There's a difference between testosterone replacement therapy and getting to a level where it's performance enhancing. I'm the furthest thing from a doctor but, I guess, sometimes they need to get it back to a normal level. But if it's over that, you're taking too much or you're seeing the wrong doctor. It works for guys who absolutely need it but it's a messy loophole."
Do you agree with his reasoning?
...Why is it that Sonnen, a near universally hated and completely fabricated personality, was allowed to keep his job while Marquardt, a widely accepted "sweetheart" and decent human being, was not?
This is where the line blurs from sport to entertainment. Well, that and money.
When Sonnen was busted, he had already delivered hundreds of thousands of pay-per-view buys and one of the greatest fights in the history of the organization.
Marquardt's problems prevented him from competing in the main event of a card that had already been more of a headache than it was likely worth.
Not only did he not make the company any money, he actually cost them money thanks to his removal from the show. His heavily publicized suspension and firing stole all the attention away from the event.
There are several sides to consider here but in the end, the UFC is a private company and they can pretty much hire and fire who they choose -- just as you have the freedom to agree or disagree with those choices.
Whose side are you taking in this messy break-up? And is it fair to compare Marquardt and Sonnen?