Did Strikeforce's Nate Marquardt and UFC's Chael Sonnen open Pandora's box with TRT?

Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen in the ring prior to his fight against Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Two years ago, Chael Sonnen nearly defeated Anderson Silva for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title at UFC 117.

Six weeks later, it was revealed Sonnen had enough testosterone in his body for nearly 17 men. He claimed it was medically needed as he suffered from a malady known as hypogonadism but ended up being served a one-year suspension anyway.

A year later, Nate Marquardt was forced off the UFC on Versus 4 headliner the day before the event due to failing his pre-fight medical exam. UFC President Dana White famously posted a 12 second video announcing not only Marquardt's removal from the fight but also from the promotion itself.

He, like Sonnen, was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) but unlike Sonnen, Marquardt secured a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) from the proper athletic commission. His levels were simply too high by the time the fight rolled around.

Last week (July 7) Sonnen took on Silva for the middleweight championship at UFC 148 and tonight (July 14), in the co-main event of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, "The Great" challenges Tyrone Woodley for Strikeforce's vacant welterweight strap.

With these two vying for titles -- and Frank Mir having done so in May -- does this prove TRTs and TUEs the future of mixed martial arts (MMA)?

A few years ago, these topics weren't even a talking point amongst MMA fans and pundits.

Now, it doesn't seem like an event goes by without it getting brought up in discussion. On top of Sonnen, UFC 148 co-main eventer Forrest Griffin -- at 33 years of age -- was granted a TUE.

Former heavyweight champion and UFC 146 headliner Frank Mir is also undergoing TRT as are Dennis Hallman and Todd Duffee.

Flyweight contender Ian McCall and newly-announced The Ultimate Fighter coach Roy Nelson have both recently stated they have low testosterone but have yet to join the TRT club.

The most tenured member would have to be Dan Henderson who despite being on the therapy for a while now, has never tested for more than the allowed threshold of 4:1.

Still, that's enough testosterone for four average adult men. How is that even reasonable?

It seems fighters are using this method because it's legal and as long as they adhere to a doctor's orders, they won't be penalized. Steroids, diuretics and other performing enhancing drugs are illegal but TRT is just fine as long as you have a note from your physician.

Please excuse this title contender as he's been feeling a little sleepy lately so he's got enough fake testosterone for a few men inside him.

There simply can't be any reason why so many fighters, mostly in their mid to early-30s, are honestly suffering from a lack of testosterone. In most males, levels don't drop until their 40s and only significantly until their 60s.

In fact, most MMA fighters are in the age range where testosterone production is at its peak.

And yet, they're getting injected with a synthetic form of the hormone?

What's most curious is it doesn't seem to be helping these fighters. Henderson continues to experience success inside the cage but Sonnen and Mir each lost their last fights while Hallman has split his last two bouts and Duffee is 1-2 in his last three.

Perhaps these fighters feel a difference while training but it doesn't translate once the Octagon door closes.

For the time being, it seems like this issue won't go away until the practice is banned in the sport or until just about everyone is having fake testosterone dumped into their veins.

I mean, if it got Sonnen and Marquardt title shots, why wouldn't everyone else do it?

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