You just knew UFC 148: "Silva vs. Sonnen 2" wouldn't be able to come and go without the subject of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) coming up in an interview or two.
That's because Chael Sonnen, who will challenge Anderson Silva for the middleweight championship in the main event of the evening later tonight (Sat., July 7, 2012) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the few reported cases of a fighter having applied and been cleared for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to use TRT.
And if he defeats Silva later tonight, he will become the first man to hold a UFC title who has publicly admitted to as much.
Naturally, this has caused quite a stir among the mixed martial arts (MMA) fanbase. Some are okay with it because Sonnen makes a compelling case that he legitimately needs it for hypogonadism while others believe past steroid abuse must have contributed to his needing it now and therefore, it's not okay.
That doesn't begin to cover the wide ranging opinions on the subject but because it's almost all speculation regarding what's caused the issue and whether or not it's being treated properly, it simply leads to endless debates that go nowhere.
Normally, that would lead to questions of whether or not to even have the discussion. But one man's opinion in this instance is definitely worth analyzing -- UFC President Dana White. During a recent conversation with Todd Grisham of ESPN, White revealed his feelings on it, and it might surprise you.
From their conversation (transcription via FightCove.com):
Grisham: "If Dan Henderson wins his fight against Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen wins on Saturday, two of your biggest faces, your champions will be on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), how does that sit with you?"
White: "The bottom line is, the way that this TRT works, it's absolutely 100 percent legal with the - let me explain one more thing."
Grisham: "The public still thinks it's cheating."
White: "I know. We're regulated by the government. We're really the only sport that's actually regulated by the government and the government allows these guys to do this TRT. And basically over the next 10 years, sports science keeps getting better and better and better and the way that TRT works is as we get older your testosterone level drops, and this (TRT) is to replace it. The problem with it is, you got guys going ‘well if this much is good, this (more) must be great. That's the problem and you will find guys that cheat even with the stuff that's legal.
"That's what we're trying to - you make a good point and Anderson Silva said it at the press conference the other day. Anderson Silva, the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world has broke every record in the UFC and is the greatest fighter ever in mixed martial arts. He's 38 years old, people don't realize that, he's not 28, he's 38, and he's not doing testosterone replacement therapy. This guy comes in 100 percent natural and he beats everybody. And something should be said for that, I don't disagree. You know the guys who are using testosterone replacement therapy going up against a guy who isn't, and this guy's still the greatest in the world. So to me, the bottom line is you don't need that junk. If you don't abuse stuff earlier in your career, you'll never need to use that kind of junk."
Grisham: "So if it were up to you, it would be illegal? If you were making the call?"
Strong statements from the face of the largest MMA organization in the world today. In particular, his revelation that "if you don't abuse stuff earlier in your career, you'll never need to use that kind of junk."
Now, obviously, he's not coming right out and accusing Sonnen or Henderson of "abusing stuff" early in their careers but in a roundabout way, that's a dig on both of them. Perhaps they both have a legitimate need for TRT that doesn't involve past steroid or drug abuse. But White implies that's simply not the case, which is made even more interesting by the fact that those two men could represent his company as a champion in two weight classes.
White saying he would make TRT illegal if it were up to him is slightly less surprising but still odd if only because of the timing.
He doesn't think it should be legal but he had no problem booking a major fight and promoting it with zest for months involving a guy who is using it?
That's interesting to say the least.
What are you thoughts on this, Maniacs? Much ado about nothing?