Opinions that fans and pundits have on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and its place in MMA are about as varied as the search engine terms that brought you here. With Dana White promising to “test the shit out of” fighters on testosterone replacement therapy to Vitor Belfort lashing out at his critics on Twitter over his own TRT usage, we’ve seen two different extremes over the course of this weekend alone. It’s a complicated issue that has many different ways of being interpreted; possibly none of which are entirely right or wrong by themselves. With that in mind, here’s an attempt at condensing the plethora of opposing views on the issue into nine different ways to look at it, arranged in no particular order.
1.) It’s Incredibly Dangerous For Both Fighters Involved.
Perhaps the most common criticism I’ve heard and read regarding testosterone replacement therapy in MMA is that it makes an already dangerous occupation even more hazardous. This is easy to observe through the perspective of the user’s opponent. It’s one thing if Barry Bonds wants to hit longer home runs, or if Hedo Turkoglu wants to flop harder — their opponents are not physically hurt by their actions in either example. However, if an MMA fighter takes testosterone to become more aggressive and punch harder, the likelihood of his opponent suffering irreparable brain damage increases dramatically.
Often neglected, however, are the additional long-term risks that the TRT user opens himself up to. Testosterone may make a fighter faster and stronger, but it doesn’t exactly undo brain damage. Prolonging a fighter’s physical prime also elongates the amount of time he’s receiving blows to the head. Imagine if boxers like Meldrick Taylor and Riddick Bowe – who showed signs of dementia pugilistica by the ends of their careers yet didn’t retire until they couldn’t stay in shape — had access to testosterone replacement therapy. Giving aging fighters the illusion that they can keep taking shots to the head because they’re still in good physical condition is bound to end in disaster.
2.) TRT Isn’t Nearly The Advantage It’s Made Out to Be.