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UFC bantamweight battling strange drug test failure

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One of the UFC's brightest rising bantamweight prospects hasn't been in the cage for a while. Unlike the rest of his division, it's not because of injury. Instead, Pedro Munhoz is fighting a strange drug test failure.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Add the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority (NSBA) to the list of problems for the UFC's bantamweight division. Plagued by injuries and stagnation among the ranks, bantamweight has had a lot of trouble getting fighters from their UFC debuts to a shot at UFC gold. One of the more promising fighters in that potential run is Kings MMA/Black House fighter Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz entered the UFC with the RFA title around his waist and put up a spirited effort against top contender (and now injured) Raphael Assuncao. It was a loss in his debut, but on short notice and against a top 5 fighter, few could blame him.

Munhoz followed that loss with a pair of dominant wins over Matt Hobar and Jerrod Sanders and it looked like he was well on his way to breaking into the ranks and fulfilling at least a few expectations hardcore fight fans had of him as a top prospect in the division. Consider his brakes officially pumped, courtesy of the NSBA.

Following Munhoz's win over Sanders at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine last October, Munhoz was informed that he had failed his post fight drug test for elevated testosterone. This failure was never released publicly, but Munhoz filed an appeal and was given the documentation of his test failure... three months later. After reviewing the documents, anti-doping specialist Paul Scott informed Munhoz that that the NSBA case against him seemed to center around his last fight in Las Vegas.

Munhoz's testosterone levels for his Nova Scotia fight were measured at more than double what they had been for his previous Las Vegas bout. Despite both numbers being inside the allowable limits, that was apparently enough to trigger the test failure. Here's what Munhoz had to say about the situation in an interview with MMAFighting:

"We called a specialist, Paul Scott, and the commission couldn't explain why my levels were high," Munhoz told MMAFighting.com. "We asked the commission for documents, explaining what happened, and it took them three months to send them to me. They sent us a 150-page file, and we gave it to Paul Scott. He examined the entire thing and said ‘This is a joke, it's all wrong'.

"The testosterone levels can go from 300 to 1100, and my level was at 850. That's in the limit. ‘Oh, but your last test from Las Vegas was at 410, and you're at 850 this time,' they said. But that's not above the limit. And everything can change your testosterone level, even if you didn't sleep properly, if you had sex, or if you took supplements. I was using two supplements, Vitrix and ZMA, and both are legal. I always ask the UFC before taking anything, and they told me I was allowed to use them."

More interesting, NSBA chairman Michael MacDonald has told MMAFighting that all his commission did was "stand by and watch" as the UFC conducted the collecting and testing of their fighters and even went as far as to report the failure back to the NSBA. MacDonald also claimed that a lack of communication from Munhoz's camp to the NSBA was behind the delay in Munhoz getting results, and that there was no delay on their end in responding to his requests.

All of that could be extra problematic for Munhoz as he he claims that the UFC is handling his case directly with the commission and that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has gotten involved as well. MMAFighting was unable to find any NSAC officials with knowledge of the case, but did receive a statement from the UFC saying they were "in the process of continuing to gather all of the pertinent information, including communication with Munhoz's legal representation." That sort of leaves Munhoz stuck with the same people investigating his claim as said he failed his drug test in the first place.

Considering that the standard suspension (pre-UFC's new drug testing regulations) usually ended up being between 9-12 months and we're already in July, Munhoz may be stuck in appeals for as long as he would have been suspended anyway. It's also worth noting, that as a Black House affiliate, Munhoz is now the fourth fighter with close ties to that gym to fail a drug test in the past year. That doesn't make his case any less weird or problematic, but it is a troubling stigma for one of MMA's elite camps.