Steroids in MMA
Which MMA Fighter Will Test Positive For Steroids Next?

December, 2014

Dethrone Founder Writes Open Letter About the UFC/Reebok Uniform Deal, And What It Was Really Like to Sponsor UFC Fighters


(“The org in the long run will only be as strong as the fighters it develops and makes the audience care about.” Photo by Cody Pickens/Fortune)

Although the UFC and Reebok officially revealed their uniform partnership on Tuesday morning, many observers were tipped off to the impending announcement by a Monday night tweet from Dethrone Royalty, an apparel brand that has served as a longtime sponsor of UFC fighters including Cain Velasquez and Gilbert Melendez. “Heard uniform announcement coming tomorrow,” the tweet read. “We were never about all looking the same. We’ll stay that way, thanks. #goodluckreebok”

Late Wednesday night, Dethrone/Zappos co-founder Nick Swinmurn posted an open letter on the UG, laying out his feelings about the ongoing changes in the UFC sponsorship landscape — of which the Reebok deal is only the latest step. It’s very insightful, and if you’re interested in hearing how this deal will affect the companies that have been putting money into UFC fighters’ pockets through sponsorships, it’s required reading. Give it a look below…

**********

No idea why posting this other than temporary boredom, but getting ripped to pieces after might be entertaining enough.

1) We knew this was coming. We weren’t “investing in a UFC future” when we paid the sponsor tax each quarter, we were just paying for the right to be able to pay guys to wear our stuff on UFC broadcasts for the next 90 days. In some cases trying to support a good guy, sometimes trying to align ourselves with a fighter we hoped would move the needle for us, sometimes just trying to get some air time on a good card, and sometimes even we couldn’t figure out why we did it.

2) We have nothing negative or positive to say about the UFC. We don’t really know anyone who works at the UFC and have never had any real interactions with anyone from the UFC other than an annual email from Mike Mersch (legal) with renewal form for sponsor tax. It’s a platform. I just watched Sons of Anarchy but doesn’t mean I feel a personal connection with FX. On the few occasions we’ve interacted with Mike on tax related questions he’s been nice and to the point. We sat at a table with Lorenzo once for five minutes and he was nice. Dana was at the table as well but too many texts for him to look up so can’t technically say we’ve ever met him.

3) We’ve developed a lot of personal relationships with UFC fighters and their managers over the past five years and will always be rooting for those guys in and out of the cage no matter what uniform they wear. We consider a lot of them to be friends.

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Not This Again: Matt Hamill Wants Out of Retirement and a Rematch With Rampage Jackson in Bellator


(“F*ck yeah I’ll watch this again!” — Nobody, ever. Photo via Getty.)

We have lamented at length about Matt Hamill‘s decision to unretire the *first* time and the uninspiring results it garnered, but alas, it appears the TUF 3 alum simply refuses to listen.

That sounded wrong. What I meant to say was that our words have fallen on…goddammit, this was a terrible analogy to use.

Matt Hamill is un-retiring, again, despite recently retiring from MMA (again) due to “a nagging injury” that forced him out of his expected WSOF debut in May. And not only that, but now he’s calling for a rematch with Rampage Jackson in Bellator over Twitter.

“@scottcoker I want a fight with @rampage4real. The Hammer is coming back and want to come to @bellator,” tweeted Hamill last night.

Eesh. Where do we begin…

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Cung Le Seeking Release From UFC in Wake of Drug Testing Fiasco, Expresses Interest in Fighting for Bellator


(“So…tomorrow night at Dave & Buster’s?” / Photo via MMAWeekly)

On yesterday’s installment of the Gross Point Blank podcast, UFC middleweight Cung Le revealed that he’s seeking to be released from his UFC contract. Despite having two fights remaining on his deal, Le has asked his manager Gary Ibarra to request his release.

“I’d just prefer not to be part of the UFC anymore,” Le told host Josh Gross. “I’d prefer not to put the effort into something I don’t believe in anymore.”

Le’s negative stance on the UFC stems from the dreadful way that the promotion handled his drug testing at UFC Fight Night 48 in August. In short, the UFC farmed out drug testing for that event to a fly-by-night laboratory operation in Hong Kong that wasn’t equipped to handle enhanced PED screenings, suspended Le for nine months when his sample came back positive for elevated HGH, bumped the suspension up to 12 months when Le started to make noise about it, then canceled the suspension when it became apparent that the testing lab’s methods were a joke — but never apologized to Le publicly.

It’s not the kind of the thing that Le can easily forgive and forget. Because there was so much speculation about Le’s action-figure physique leading up to the fight, his positive test — despite its total lack of legitimacy — convinced many fans that Le was a cheater, and put a major dent in his reputation. As Gary Ibarra explained to Gross:

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TUF 20 Fight Highlights: Namajunas vs. Calderwood, Esparza vs. Torres + Six TUF 20 Finale Fights Announced

This isn’t news to you because those knuckleheads at DirecTV already spoiled it, but yeah, here are the video highlights from last night’s episode of TUF 20, in which Rose Namajunas submitted Joanne Calderwood with a kimura, and Carla Esparza won a two-round majority decision against Tecia Torres. With all the quarterfinal matchups now in the books, next week’s semifinal bouts will be…

Carla Esparza (#1) vs. Jessica Penne (#4)
Rose Namajunas (#7) vs. Randa Markos (#14)

Following the episode, six undercard bouts for the TUF 20 Finale (December 12th, Las Vegas) were announced on FOX Sports Live. They are…

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Mismatch Alert: Welterweight Phenom Michael Page to Beat Up “Curtious” Curtis Millender at Bellator 133


(Props: UCMMA)

English welterweight Michael “Venom” Page (7-0) has become one of the most consistently thrilling MMA fighters in the world. This is the dude who won his pro MMA debut via tornado kick, in the world’s first-ever “just gonna stand here for a while” knockout (see above). He won his Bellator debut in just 10 seconds. In his second Bellator fight, he did this to Ricky Rainey. His decision win last month over Strikeforce/UFC veteran Nah-Shon Burrell marked the first time that one of Page’s fights made it out of the first round.

Michael Page is a friggin’ monster, and he’s earned a step up in competition. And so, he’s just been booked to compete at Bellator 133: The British Invasion (February 27th; Uncasville, CT) against fast-rising up-and-comer…uh…wait a minute, who the hell is “Curtious” Curtis Millender?

No, we’ve never heard of the guy either, and his nickname deserves its own post. (“My 3rd-grade teacher gave me that name, and it just stuck” — made-up quote from Curtis Millender.) Apparently, he’s a 7-0 fighter from San Berdoo, with all of his fights taking place in the OC Fight Club promotion. He’s a coach at the UFC Gym in Fullerton, and comes from a wrestling background. He only has two stoppage wins to his name, including a 48-second doctor’s stoppage TKO of TUF 16 castmember James Chaney last month.

Okay, maybe it’s not fair to write this dude off as dead meat before we’ve even seen him. Watch the promo video below, and you’ll see Millender throw some flashy attacks that we might describe as “Page-esque in their execution, Joe.” Plus, at the 0:36 mark, he makes his opponent do the stankiest stanky-leg we have ever seen in sanctioned competition. So that’s pretty cool.

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Cris Cyborg’s Bantamweight Debut Delayed, Will Instead Defend Invicta FC Featherweight Title Early Next Year


(via Invicta FC.)

You may recall that Cris Cyborg (aka Cristiane Justino) was expected to make her highly-anticipated bantamweight debut at Invicta 10 this Friday, in a move that was being heralded as “the beginning of the end of the Rousey Era” by hyperbolic MMA writers across the board (you don’t know). That was until about a month ago, however, when an ankle injury forced Cyborg out of her matchup against an opponent who we’re pretty sure was never even named.

In any case, it has now been a year and a half since we last saw Cyborg compete — save a Muay Thai match here and there — and her Invicta featherweight title has presumably been collecting dust in the same dark corner where her stripped Strikeforce featherweight title sits. So with time working against her, Cyborg has decided to postpone her bantamweight debut in order to simply compete again. She spoke with MMAFighting earlier this morning:

I haven’t fought in a long time. With this injury, I believe the best option now will be fight in my division. I can’t wait anymore, I need to fight. I’m the featherweight champion and Invicta FC needs me to defend my belt.

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UFC/Reebok Uniform Deal Reportedly Worth $70 Million Over Six Years


(From L-R: Reebok president Matt O’Toole, UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC social media intern Dana White. / Photo via Business Wire)

Yesterday, the UFC and Reebok laid out the broad strokes of a new partnership that would make Reebok the official uniform provider and commercial apparel producer for the world’s leading MMA promotion. In short: It’s a six-year agreement that will kick off on July 6th of next year, “every dime” of the revenue goes to the fighters — or at least “the vast majority” of it — and payouts will be based on a tier-system determined by a fighter rankings, which are themselves determined by a random and often unqualified assortment of approved media members.

There are a lot of questions about the deal that still need to be answered. But if a new report on The Telegraph is accurate, we now know how much Reebok is paying the UFC, in total. According to Gareth A. Davies, the partnership is “is understood to be worth $70 million over a six-year period.” So let’s break this thing down…

- $70 million over six years is about $11.67 million per year.

- There are approximately 550 fighters currently under contract with the UFC. That figure comes from UFC president Dana White, who said this yesterday: “I couldn’t call all 550 fighters, but I’ve been calling fighters over the last few days and pretty much all the men and women that I talked to are pretty excited about it.” Pretty much! Pretty excited! Nate Diaz was one of the dissenting votes, I guess.

- $11.67 million divided by 550 fighters = an average of $21,212 per fighter per year. Keep in mind that we still don’t exactly know how the tiered payout system will operate. But $21,212 is the number we’re starting with.

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Do-or-Die Alert: Josh Koscheck Now Faces Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184


(I really have no caption for this, but would just like to say that Richard Kiel is a legend. Via Kos’ instagram.)

While admittedly not much of a Josh Koscheck fan over the years (my uncle is a male nurse, bro), even I scratched my head when it was announced that he would return from a 15-month layoff to face Neil Magny at UFC 184. Being that one of them is riding a three fight skid and the other just tied the record for most consecutive wins in a year, it seemed unusual and a bit cruel that Koscheck was essentially being used as a stepping stone in what could very well be the final performance of his storied UFC career*.

Thankfully, it appears the UFC has come to its senses and decided to place Kos against a similarly struggling (and therefore more appropriate) opponent: Jake Ellenberger. Having also dropped his past three, Ellenberger is practically Koscheck’s doppelganger in the welterweight division — an aging wrestler with heavy hands who has seemingly been surpassed by the “new breed” of martial artists in recent years — albeit a much nicer one to be around.

Koscheck is on the heels of back-to-back KO losses (to Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley, respectfully), whereas Ellenberger’s most recent loss to Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 180 was his first to come by submission since 2007. Methinks we’re going to be in for a good old fashioned slugfest here, or possibly three rounds of methodically paced wall-n-stall. Either or.

Predictions, please.

Check out the UFC 184 lineup after the jump. 

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Michinori Tanaka Tests Positive for Stimulants Following Loss at UFC Fight Night 52, Catches Nine-Month Suspension


(As if that hair didn’t bring enough shame onto his family. / Photo via Taro Irei, Sherdog)

Michinori Tanaka” is a name that should bring confused looks to all but the most hardcore of MMA fans. A two-fight veteran of UFC Fight Pass, the 24-year-old Japanese prospect suffered the first defeat of his career back in September, when he lost a split-decision to Kyung Ho Kang on the Hunt vs. Nelson prelims. Unfortunately, Tanaka was jacked up on stimulants (or maybe allergy medicine?) during that fight and now he’s been suspended. From an official statement on UFC.com:

At UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson on September 20 in Saitama, Japan, UFC contracted with an independent drug testing laboratory to perform testing on all fighters on the card.

UFC bantamweight Michinori Tanaka tested positive for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine based on a pre-fight urine test administered prior to the event. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are stimulants banned in athletic competition pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. Based on such results, UFC officials decided that Tanaka had violated his promotional agreement and the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. Accepting the accuracy of the test result, Tanaka has admitted to taking over-the-counter allergy medication prior to the fight, likely causing the positive result, and acknowledges the illegal substances were in his system. Consequently, Tanaka agreed to a nine-month suspension from unarmed combat competition. He must pass a drug test at the conclusion of his suspension in order to return to competition. Tanaka will also forfeit his Fight of the Night bonus he earned at the event. [Ed. note: Zyrtec just cost this dude $50,000. Ouch.]

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DirecTV Just Spoiled the Sh*t Out of the Remaining TUF 20 Quarterfinals


(“Don’t just DirecTV, PredicTV”)

It’s been an entertaining, if fairly routine season of The Ultimate Fighter thus far, despite all the hubbub about “a champion being crowned” and a new division and all that. The fights have been thoroughly enjoyable across the board, the in-house drama kept to a near minimum, and Anthony Pettis is seemingly doing the best he can to remind us why we should care that he’s the lightweight champion. Another season, another dollar, yadda yadda, yadda yadda…

Last week, #4 ranked Jessica Penne (who has been my dark horse pick to win the season since the cast was announced) defeated #5 Aisling Daly via unanimous decision to advance to the semifinals alongside #12 Randa Markos. Next week’s episode features a pair of pivotal quarterfinal matchups in #7 Rose Namajunas (THUG ROSE!) vs. #2 Joanne Calderwood and #1 Carla Esparza vs. #3 Tecia Torres, and the only way you’ll ever find out who wins will be to tune in!!

Unless you happen to have DirecTV, that is, in which case you could just scroll ahead to the summary for episode 12 and read it for yourself. Someone dun screwed up alright, and thanks to r/MMA user 3JSand (and our goddamned curiosity), we now know exactly how the semifinals will look.

Join us after the jump for some major spoilers.

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