Rory MacDonald’s coach believes his fighter’s upcoming opponent uses performance-enhancing drugs.
In an interview with DAZN, TriStar head coach Firas Zahabi called Jon Fitch, who challenges MacDonald for the welterweight title at Bellator 220 later this month, a “cheater” and a “coward.” Fitch, a former UFC fighter and WSOF champ, failed a drug test in late 2014 ahead of an unsuccessful title bid at WSOF 16.
“If he did it in 2015, here we are in 2019 and he has a title fight, of course he’s going to do it,” Zahabi said. “But we don’t have USADA or VADA testing in Bellator. We only have the testing the week of the fight, which is very easy to get around.
“He’s better now than he was before, because of his steroids. He had a dip, and then he had a surge. There’s no question about it. He’s had a major resurgence in his career. Let’s be honest — he’s a cheater.”
Fitch reportedly tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. The test was administered by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which suspended Fitch nine months. Fitch lost to then-welterweight champ Rousimar Palhares by first-round submission in the WSOF 16 main event.
Fitch bounced back from the Palhares loss and his suspension with a win over Yushin Okami in late 2015. He has won four straight since then, including a Bellator debut victory over Paul Daley last year.
Zahabi implied that doping is a worse offense in MMA than other sports because of how physical MMA is.
“We’re not a group of guys playing golf here, we’re not playing soccer. We’re not hitting soccer balls or baseballs,” Zahabi, who has trained the likes of former UFC two-division champion Georges St-Pierre, said. “We’re hitting each other. It’s highly immoral, it’s a crime, in my opinion.”
MacDonald vs. Fitch headlines Bellator 220, which takes place April 27 at SAP Center in San Jose, California. It is also part of the ongoing welterweight grand prix. MacDonald’s belt is on the line throughout the duration of the tournament.
Zahabi seems confident in MacDonald, who is coming off a brutal loss to middleweight champ Gegard Mousasi, ahead of his pairing with Fitch.
“Truth of the matter is, [Fitch] is not as good as people think he is — he’s really just a cheater. If I take a guy and give him testosterone, he’s gonna be really good, too.
“This guy is a coward. He’s a cheater. He’s not a good fighter, he’s not a competent fighter. He really is just a guy on a lot of juice. He can’t win without it. That’s the truth.”