It’s kind of shocking how quickly the reputation of Bellator Fighting Championships has gone from the humble yet respected #2 promotion in MMA to the center of all things shady and soon to be #3 promotion in MMA. We’ve heard stories from two of the promotion’s former champions — Eddie Alvarez and Zach Makovsky — about how dirty the promotion plays ball with its own fighters, and recently, we’ve seen the promotion claim that an imposter agent was reaching out to ex-UFC fighters like Leonard Garcia and offering them fake contracts, a claim that was almost instantly debunked by Garcia’s management. In short, it appears that Dana White was right about the promotion pulling “dirty, scumbag moves.” Dana White was right…
And now, Bellator’s own welterweight champion, Ben Askren, has all but blown the lid off the promotion’s drug-testing process. Or lack thereof.
Askren posted the above Tweet yesterday, which quickly raised a lot of red flags from the MMA community for obvious reasons. How was it that the #2 promotion in the sport had only tested one of their champions once in eight fights? Was this just their way of
dealing with sweeping their fighters sudden need for TRT under the rug? Is Viacom a front for the Legalize It movement? Or are Bellator’s fighters just that clean? BJPenn.com’s Giovanni Burns attempted to bring some light to the issue, and was probably responsible for Askren’s tweet in the first place:
Pressure is always present in the UFC for fighters to perform at a high level due to the UFC’s well-deserved high status with MMA connoisseurs and ZUFFAS enormous expectations to put on gladiator like performances…Bottom line is that Bellator fighters have dreams to advance to the UFC to compete with the best MMA fighters in the world and for the most part, don’t place themselves at risk of missing that big paycheck and opportunity to perform in front of huge audiences that only the UFC draws by using performance enhancing drugs (PED).
UFC fighters on the other hand, have nightmares of getting demoted to the “B level” promotions, as it is a clear sign that they couldn’t hang with the best of the best and some delusional UFC fighters with low self-esteem feel that it is better to cheat by ingesting PED’s than to put confidence in their God given talent.
While Burns’ point is more hypothetical than anything else, one of Askren’s followers pointed out a fact that holds a little more weight: MMA events held on Indian reservations can often do so without having to jump through the hoops that an athletic commission would require. As it just so happens, the majority of Bellator events are held on Indian reservations or casinos who act under the jurisdiction of the governing Indian reservation. A few recent examples:
Bellator 79 – Casino Rama
Bellator 80 – Seminole Hard Rock & Casino
Bellator 82 – Soaring Eagle Casino
Bellator 86 – WinStar World Casino
Bellator 91 – Santa Ana Star Center
Bellator 92 – Penchanga Resort & Casino
All of these venues are located on Indian reservations and are therefore not subjected to the rules and stipulations of an athletic commission. This in turn allows Bellator to skirt by without disclosing such things as drug test results or even disclosed fighter salaries, hence why we have never heard of a Bellator fighter testing positive for ANYTHING in 90+ events, or why Bellator is allegedly able to coerce their fighters into fighting for less money than their contracts dictate.
In either case, it seems that Bellator’s notorious shadiness regarding such matters is really starting to have an adverse effect on their reputation. No wonder they’re so desperate to cling on to certain “marketable” fighters, because they sure as hell aren’t going to be singing any new ones with stories like these floating around.