Opinion: Is the UFC Getting Tough on Steroids?
By Jesse Heitz
News recently broke that Rousimar Palhares has been permanently banned from the UFC. Several media outlets are reporting that Palhares has once again tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. This means he’s no longer welcome within the confines of “The Octagon”.
A recent Yahoo Sports article by Kevin Iole, recited an interview conducted by ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp. The article highlighted this unusual case, and featured the words of UFC President, Dana White, himself. The article stated,
“JS: Last night, there was kind of an ugly incident at one of your fight night events. Rousimar Palhares, he had his opponent in an ankle lock. His opponent tapped out and Palhares wouldn’t let go. We can see it here (Showing a still photo of Pierce submitting). Is that the kind of incident that gives your league and your sport a bad name and that bolsters the case of the attorney general in a place like New York?
DW: No. I mean, if you ever watch a UFC event, the camaraderie, the sportsmanship is amazing in this sport. You know, we had an incident with a guy named Paul Daley from England, who hit somebody after the fight was over. The fight was over and everybody was in the corner waiting for the decision and he went over and hit the guy. We cut him. He’ll never fight in the UFC ever again.
This is the second incident we’ve had with Palhares, where he had the lock and he didn’t let it go. Finally he let it go, but yeah, I’m going to cut him, too.
JS: You’re going to cut him? This is it? You’re saying here right now on the record, not just a suspension, he’s done?
DW: He’s done.
JS: He’s done.”
If my piece were to be given via video presentation, you’d very well see me giving the UFC a standing ovation. I have long, and in numerous previous articles, showcased my utter disdain for fighters, athletes in general, that juice. It’s simply dangerous. BJ Penn once compared using performance-enhancing drugs to bringing a baseball bat into the cage. In no way did I feel that Penn was over-stating things.
Granted, Dana White’s public statements rationalize the cutting of Palhares due to disregarding a referee’s instructions and thereby placing the safety of a fellow fighter in jeopardy. However, it’s important to note that in their official statement, they also mention Palhares’ positive test for elevated levels of testosterone in 2012. Perhaps, steroids played a larger role in this dismissal than one might have thought.
MMA, or any combat sport for that matter, could have absolutely horrendous, fatal even, consequences for participants when one fighter has an unnatural advantage. Palhares recent fight with Pierce proves that point. Granted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on the ample use of leverage, but what if a grappler with an inordinate level of pharmaceutical-created strength holds a submission too long. Can a knee bar or heel hook which might have caused “healable” damage under “clean” circumstances become a career ending knee injury when a “roiding” grappler holds the submission too long?
Regardless of whether Dana White fired Palhares for his unsportsmanlike and downright dangerous conduct, or whether it was part of a larger scheme to eradicate from their roster fighters who indulge in banned substances, it was certainly a positive stem worthy of commendation.