UFC on FX 8 is in the books and Vitor Belfort landed an all-time great spinning kick to knock out Luke Rockhold. As much as it pains me, it seems like in the aftermath of this fight the MMA community again needs to discuss Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and its place, or lack thereof, in the sport.
More and more MMA fighters are using TRT, and why wouldn't they? It is a legal way to inject oneself with Testosterone and then still compete in high level Mixed Marital Arts. Managers should pushing all their fighters to get on TRT right now because it is pretty clearly having an impact. Now clearly not every fighter on TRT is going to turn into a title contender but we've seen fighters who use TRT transform their bodies. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson raved about how much younger he felt while on TRT, Vitor Belfor and Chael Sonnen turned their careers around while on TRT, Dan Henderson has become an age-less wonder with its help.
What makes Belfort's TRT exemption particularly offensive is that he has been caught using steroids in the past; in fact he is still black listed in many parts of the United States for not fully serving his suspension for that positive test. Now Belfort is suffering from low testosterone, a side effect of heavy steroid use, and he is being given a medical way around the consequences of his own bad behavior. At the very least any fighter with a past positive test for steroids should not be allowed TRT use.
From a broader point of view, it does not make sense that TRT is legal at all. Aside from past steroid use the other causes of low testosterone do not warrant TRT use by a competitive athlete. It has been talked about that a life time of weight cutting can impact testosterone, and if that is the case then that is the trade off a fighter makes when cutting large amounts of weight before a fight.
Age is another factor, the older a fighter becomes the lower his testosterone levels, and that is just part of sports. As a fighter ages he needs to adjust to the changes in his body to stay successful and at a certain point he is no longer able to compete. That is part of life and part of sports, to allow aging fighters to have the testosterone levels of a 25-year-old is clearly a cheat on the legitimately 25-year-old fighters trying to make their name. And if a fighter is legitimately born with low T levels, then those are the breaks. You compete with the body you were born with, again that is sports. Every athlete wishes he or she was born with the physical gifts of LeBron James, but there is no other major sport where an athlete can complain that they are feeling slower and weaker than their opponents and be given a way to inject themselves with testosterone with the blessing of their sporting league.
And that doesn't even bring up the safety concerns of sending a chemically enhanced fighter in against a non- testosterone user, but that is enough TRT talk for one morning, on to the fights:
- Vitor Belfort delivered an awesome kick. The body position, the way he had to come back across his own body, and the blinding speed he did it with all was awe inspiring. Not much for Rockhold to take away from this fight because he got kicked in the head before he really got anything going.
- Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza made very short work of Chris Camozzi. His transitions on the ground were like water, and he set that arm triangle up like a master chess player. Camozzi was out classed striking, wrestling and grappling, which doesn't really leave a lot of room in MMA. Jacare is a very complete fighter, he deserves to be fighting top level guys, so here's hoping he gets back in the cage soon against an elite Middleweight.
- The big question seems to be who is next for both Jacare and Belfort. A one-off for title contender seems natural, but if Anderson Silva is able to defend his title at UFC 162 against Chris Weidman it could be a problem. Souza and Silva are friends and have said the will not fight and Silva has already made short work of Belfort. And even if the stars align and Belfor becomes UFC Champion, is having a TRT champion who is black listed in most major U.S. states good for the UFC?
- Rafael dos Anjos didn't win that fight, but it shouldn't be called a robbery. The term "Robbery" should be saved for Leonard Garcia's win over Chan Sung Jung in the WEC, or other incredibly offensive judges' decisions. This was a close fight that fans disagreed with, not an all out robbery. There was likely some home cooking inovled here, but put away the pitchforks and torches.
- Dunham was very impressive with the accuracy of his boxing, consistently finding his target despite dos Anjos pretty good head movement. It was a fight that left me very high on both fighters as they appear to be improving their skill set.
- The main card opened with a match between Rafael Natal and Joao Zeferino, which had a fun moment where both fighters looked for leg locks from the 50/50 guard. It came down to the fact that Zeferino gased hard and likely should not have been on a UFC main card.
- After this there isn't a ton to talk about. The Fuel TV portion of the prelims were very forgettable, the three Facebook fights however were much more entertaining. This could be because the Facebook fights featured three of the Top 10 UFC Flyweights. Why the UFC insists on burying their Flyweights on Facebook cards is beyond me. Yes, they are small and that does likely have an impact on their marketability, but it seems very short sighted to have title contenders emerge on the Facebook cards where less than half of UFC fans will actually watch them fight.
- Nik Lentz did his Nik Lentz thing to become the only American to get a win on this card.
- Francisco Trinaldo and Gleison Tibau are really big, and in both fights that was kinda a key factor. Tibau and Trinaldo both just about squeezed their opponent's heads off. Trinaldo locked up Mike Rio in a half guard arm triangle, which isn't unheard of, but it takes some strength to finish. Tiabu finished a more traditional full guard guillotine on John Cholish with equally impressive squeeze strength.
- Paul Thiago got a much needed win over Michel Richard dos Prazeres, and staves off a pink slip for one more fight. Thiago is well past the peak of his career and will likely never recapture that 2009 form that caused him to run roughshod over the AKA crew.
- Yuri Alcantara only need a crisp, straight punch to end Illiarde Santos' night. Not much to make of this as Santos took this one on short notice, but it was a nice KO from Alcantara, who is primarily a grappler.
- Fabio Maldonado wore Roger Hollett down with a combination of clinch work, body shots, and Hollett's general aversion the third round. Maldonado had some nice rib roasters in this one and clearly took over this fight in the later rounds. Not much to say in terms of bigger picture other than body punching is fun.
- John Lineker looked like a beast as he just ran right through Azamat Gashimov. Lineker is a physical beast at Flyweight. His body work is vicious and clearly bays dividends as he dropped Gashimov with a body kick. This kid could go places in this division and should be on the short list of contenders.
- Jussier Formiga had some very fun grappling in his match with Chris Cariaso, but the match was marred, and possibly altered, by some awful stand ups by referee Kevin Mulhall. Formiga continues to have issues with his gas tank late in fights.
- Well this card opened with a bang. A real sloppy brawl between Lucas Martins and Jeremy Larsen. The fight was hilariously bad at times, with Martins throwing slappy punches at times. Martins did fight in a vintage Chute Boxe style at times, eating shots and getting dropped, just to pop back up and return fire. Larsen was up two rounds, his corner told him to lead with a jab and look for the right hand, which had hurt Martins several times. Larsen didn't jab and was winging wild shots when Martins sat down on a straight right and sent him to the mat. Very nice come back for Martins, physically talented and still young, but doesn't look ready, skill wise, for the UFC.