Photo: Esther Lin / MMAFighting.com
Quinton Jackson put on arguably the worst performance of his career at UFC 144 when he lost to Ryan Bader by lopsided decision after badly missing weight. Rampage blamed a knee injury for missing weight as he couldn't do his road work and lose weight as one normally would.
When talking to Fighters Only Magazine, Rampage dropped an odd bit of information. He had used testosterone replacement in the lead up to the fight as well. From the interview:
I almost pulled out but then I went to see the doctor and he told me to talk to an age-management doctor. So I went and talked to them and they tested me and said my testosterone was low; they prescribed me testosterone, to bring my testosterone levels back up to levels where I can be like... so that I am the same as young people, like when I was 25, and it would help build my knee up. I hurt my knee like a month ago and I only did three shots of testosterone but it put a lot of weight on me, a lot of muscle on me but it healed me knee up good enough to where I could fight.
It was hard for me to train, it takes time to heal, I couldn't do certain things, but this was my first time ever using testosterone. I took what the doctor prescribed to me and I went to the pharmacy... I gave myself small doses and that shit immediately changed me, that's why I am saying now I am not going to retire. I am not gonna retire no time soon, its just unfortunate that I got this injury.
I started hitting it up pretty good, I still gotta take care of my knee but I feel like a 25 year old again. My sex life changed, I was back to five times a night like when I was 25, straight up. I got stronger, lifting weights. I was never good at lifting weights but I was doing everything, pull ups and stuff, everything with my top half. I gained a lot of weight but I gained a lot of water as well, I never knew about testosterone putting weight on you like that. I had to cut weight [for the fight] and I cut 22 pounds out of the 30 I needed to cut, I just couldn't make the rest. I couldn't make the rest.
Thoughts after the jump...
Later in the interview, Rampage says that it isn't like other forms of drugging because "testosterone is all natural, it's what your body produces." The problem is, of course, that part of that whole "natural" thing is that your levels at 33 years old might "naturally" be lower than they were at 25.
It could be Jackson not exactly being an eloquent speaker when it comes to more "technical" things like medical procedures, but his description makes his use sound less like the Dan Henderson model of "bringing your levels to the normal range" and more "hey, this is going to make you feel like you're almost ten years younger!" More important than how it would make him feel is the idea that it was going to make him perform better. As Jackson said ‘you know what, I am gonna do it. It will make me young and help me fight longer, which I want to.' Again, the idea of TRT usage isn't to improve beyond expected performance for age, it's to "normalize."
Jackson also dropped another odd line:
So I spoke to the UFC and they were like ‘yeah, a lot of fighters are probably doing it but not telling anyone.' Me, I keep it real, I am not doing anything wrong. Its legal and I am not abusing it and I am not going over certain levels. From what I learned about it, when I got tested my levels my levels were really low and the doctor was telling me that athletes can burn testosterone.
That the UFC is acknowledging that there are "a lot of fighters" using TRT has to be seen as something of a problem. It's been said by others, but the rate of mixed martial artists who are suffering from testosterone deficiency appears much higher than the general population. Shockingly so, honestly.
I'm actually all for the regulated use of TRT or performance enhancing drugs or whatever. But until there is a system put in place and a set-up of clear rules, I'm not exactly comfortable with seemingly every aging fighter turning to TRT to turn back the clock.