Pictured: Alistair "Demolition Man" Overeem.
As most of you likely already know, Alistair Overeem has found himself in trouble with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) thanks to a failed drug test following a UFC 146 press conference last month.
As it turns out, "The Reem," who has faced accusations of steroid use since making the jump to the heavyweight division, was rolling around with a T/E ration (explained in detail here) of 14:1.
That's all you can eat horse meat, baby.
What this likely means is Overeem will no longer be able to challenge Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight championship at UFC 146 on May 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada, effectively killing the historic all heavyweight main card pay-per-view event. UFC President Dana White is pissed about it, too, so much so that he may very well tell "Demolition Man" to pack up his gear bag and go home.
All of which deeply saddens me.
I'm saddened by this situation because I don't care. I just don't. I can't muster up the energy enough to truly feel one way or another about the issue of steroids in sports. I care as much about these fellas sticking needles in their asses (if that's even what they're doing) as I do their morning bowl of Wheaties.
You know what I do care about? Being entertained.
Selfish of me? Maybe. But if these guys juicing means I'll be entertained more than I would have been otherwise, great. That's the entire reason I watch this sport to begin with. I don't watch because I'm worried about their safety or who is taking what supplements and whether or not said supplements are illegal.
Because I couldn't care less about all that nonsense.
Speaking of which, the whole safety first culture in mixed martial arts (MMA) confuses me. We're talking about a sport that sells itself on one human scrambling another human's brains. We watch because we enjoy it. We like the violence. We like it so much, in fact, that we pay damn good money to see it. Now a guy gets caught doing something to make him better at giving us what we want and we're pissed?
Sorry if that makes no sense to me.
Are we watching movies and fearing for the stuntman's safety when he's getting blown up or thrown from a tree? No! And why not? Because we're entertained. And that guy, as an adult of sound mind, made the decision to do what he does. He probably went home and took a few muscle relaxers just to go to sleep that night, too. It's the price he pays for his profession. And I would never fault him for taking those muscle relaxers because he entertained me and who the hell am I to tell him what he should and shouldn't be using?
These fighters aren't role models, or at least they shouldn't be. I don't want my kids looking up to professional fighters, no matter how classy they act after bludgeoning each other. I would rather they look up to a teacher they enjoy at school because that teacher has grand ideas about the world we live in. I don't want them looking up to Alistair Overeem because he looks like Superman and has one hell of a liver kick.
Dana White likes to toot the safety horn in saying no one has ever gotten seriously injured inside the Octagon. This isn't true, of course, but his point is that people aren't dying thanks to their involvement in MMA, at least not at the UFC level. And there are instances where we know a guy was illegal, like Chael Sonnen against Anderson Silva. In fact, his T/E ratio was 16.9:1 in comparison to Overeem's 14:1. But was it really so bad? Every day, some new media member is saying a "prominent UFC fighter told me 90-percent of guys in MMA are on PEDs." If that's true, then we can safely assume we've already seen the effects of it in actual live fights and you know what?
I don't see the problem. I really don't.
Ultimately, fighting is a very basic form of self expression. How we take it in is also a very telling sign of the human instinct. The lust for violence is within us all, just as much as it's something we're all capable of. For every sweet jiu-jitsu sweep that gets a nice little golf clap, there's a knockout that will make 20,000 strong explode to their feet and cheer. The more violent, the better. It's very visceral. Whether we want to admit it or not, or come to terms with it or not, we enjoy it. We love watching a man get hit so hard in his dome that his brain immediately shuts down, making his body go rigid and leading to him collapsing to the mat in a heap of flesh and failure. And we're fascinated while watching him twitch until he wakes up and wonders where the time went and how it is that he came to find himself surrounded by medical personnel while he's sitting there with the feint beginnings of a headache and a daze in his eyes.
When considering all that, are we really that pissed off that someone is using supplements deemed illegal by a governing body? The process itself is interesting because at one time or another some of the supplements these elite athletes use weren't illegal. They just became illegal when more research was done. By that logic, does that mean there are legal supplements athletes are using now that will be illegal sometime down the road? Probably. But why don't we care about them using said supplements? And why will we suddenly care once they become illegal?
Ultimately, I think people care far less than they act like they do. I think they pretend to care because they believe they should out of some misplaced sense of empathy for their fellow human beings. Meanwhile, they make no bones about how titillated they were when they watched Edson Barboza crack Terry Etim's chin with such a swift and deadly wheelhouse kick that Etim's eyes immediately crossed and his arms shot out stiff like a zombie in a bad horror flick. His head bouncing lifelessly off the mat was the icing on the cake.
Make no mistake, though, I'm not rallying for a change here. I'm not saying steroids should be legal and everyone should just get to dope as much as they want. I'm simply saying I don't care if they do.
Why should I?