The UFC has long defended criticisms of performance enhancing drug use in the sport by pointing out that drug testing is (mostly) handled by commissions, or "these guys are tested by the government."
The fact that the standard commission tests have mostly consisted of pre and post fight urine tests, easy to beat by fighters actively using, has been largely ignored by the promotion while experiments in "enhanced testing" have often been lacking in methodology that would catch a variety of drugs.
What has proven effective, however, has been random testing, especially out-of-competition. It appears that this is the direction the UFC intends to go.
The end goal is unannounced, year-round blood and urine tests on the UFC's stable of approximately 500 athletes using an independent sample collector.
"We are meeting with different companies right now and we're going to have out-of-competition testing," Ratner told ESPN.com. "We're not sure when it's going to start, but we're working on it right now.
"Unannounced blood and urine is going to happen, hopefully in the next three or four months. When you're talking about 500 fighters, there are a lot of logistics. Having fighters in foreign countries makes it tougher, but we're coming up with a plan and (agencies) are making proposals to us in the next two weeks."
While there are a lot of questions as to what testing would be involved, this is a significant step forward for the promotion and Ratner declined to expand on the testing (or the potential of partnering with VADA or USADA) in the ESPN discussion.
It's also worth noting that Georges St. Pierre told Bloody Elbow last week that random testing was a requirement for any potential return. "I will never fight again in MMA without my opponent and myself being thoroughly tested for the most advanced PEDs by a credible independent anti-doping organization like VADA or USADA under the strictest standards of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) Code," St. Pierre said.
We won't know if this leads to a GSP return for some time, but it's a step in the right direction and worth keeping an eye on.