Few fans would have batted an eye when Dequan Townsend stepped into the Octagon on January 25th – for his planned upcoming bout with Bevon Lewis – after a seven month layoff from his debut. The longtime regional veteran – who first hit the UFC back in June, with 28 fights already under his belt – took a hard loss from Dalcha Lungiambula in a short-notice fight for his new promotional home. A little time off before the next one would have been nothing out of the ordinary for a sport that routinely sees fighters sidelined for more than a year at a time.
It turns out, however, that Townsend’s time away from competition was likely nothing like what he had planned. ‘The Tarantula’ failed an in-competition drug test taken just a day before he stepped into the cage against Lungiambula, on June 29th in Minneapolis, MN. The results of that test?
“Townsend, 33, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, and norfentanyl, a metabolite of fentanyl and its derivatives,” reads a statement posted by USADA on January 8th, “as the result of an in-competition urine sample he provided on June 28, 2019 at UFC Fight Night Minneapolis, where he lost by technical knockout. Cocaine, a non-Specified stimulant, and fentanyl, a Specified narcotic, are prohibited in-competition and considered Substances of Abuse under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the UFC Prohibited List.”
Townsend received a six-month suspension as a result of the failed in-competition drug test. With USADA reporting that his sanction was reduced from the “default” two-year suspension, “contingent upon his successful completion of a USADA approved drug rehabilitation program.”
Townsend has yet to release any public statement on this sanction, but his fight with Lewis is still scheduled to go ahead as planned. Their middleweight bout is set for the prelims of UFC Raleigh. The card is expected to be headlined by a heavyweight fight between Curtis Blaydes and former champion Junior dos Santos.