“I’m glad the drug testing is more stringent,” UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier tells Breitbart Sports. “Maybe we’ll stop seeing so many guys look like Superman and they’ll start looking like me.”
When the round and well-rounded Cormier takes on Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192, both fighters compete for the first time since the promotion unveiled a stringent drug-testing regimen administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). In addition to more frequent testing, the organization imposes harsher penalties—a two-year suspension for popping positive on performance enhancers. “If you’re using drugs,” UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta explained in June, “you’re going to get caught.”
The fighters generally appreciate that. But the regulations and intrusions of the new regimen complicate life outside of the octagon.
“Just the consciousness of knowing what you have to put in your body, just little over-the-counter things, just having that awareness of what you put in your body at all times is a lot different than I had previously going into a fight,” former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans tells Breitbart Sports. “I’ve always watched what I put in my body. But just the little things. I need to make sure I know what’s in every single thing I put in my body at all times. That’s something I wasn’t really so conscious of because the drug testing wasn’t so strict.”
Evans, who debuted in the UFC a decade ago, has seen the zeal of organizations to ensure clean fights increase during his career.
“I got tested two days ago,” the 19-3 fighter, who takes on Ryan Bader on October 3, explained to Breitbart Sports on the conference call for UFC 192. “It’s not so intrusive right now because I’ve been tested previously, a week or so before my fight, so that’s not too much different. But just having to do the whereabouts form, that’s something very new. That’s something that a lot of fighters are really going to have to be conscious of, especially me, because I travel so much.
“Sometimes I’m kind of flighty,” he confesses. “Sometimes I wake up one morning and I want to be in Chicago. And I get a flight that morning and I go to Chicago. I just like to move around like that. That’s how I get down. I’m going to have to make an adjustment with that.”
For Cormier, who wrestled at the 2004 Olympics and served as U.S. team captain at the 2008 games despite a weight-cutting mishap sidelining him, the strict testing regimen comes as nothing new.
“It’s not that different,” he maintains. “There has been quite a bit of testing before my last few fights. But I think it’s great. USADA is something that I’ve dealt with since wrestling. Not only is it going to scare guys from cheating, the whereabouts thing, unless you’re a guy who changes the weather like Rashad Evans, most times it’s pretty easy to tell people where you are.”
The competitors pay a price under the new system. But surely many paid a bigger price in a more chemically-enhanced MMA.
“You can seriously injure someone or kill someone,” UFC President Dana White pointed out in June. “It’s a lot different than baseball.”