DRUGS in MMA

Being a trainer to UFC fighters and other pro mixed martial artists gives me a behind the scenes look at the fight game that a lot of people aren’t privy to.

Like what it’s like to be inside the octagon looking out.

Yeah, I know, I’m a lucky dude and I’m grateful for all of the good luck that’s come my way.

After watching the Strikeforce card, where Fedor fought closer to how he looks, and seeing Josh Barnett and the ever-hypertrophying Alistair Overeem a few times during the night got me thinking about the topic of drugs in MMA.

Now you may be wondering…

“Is it common for top MMA fighters to use banned performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)?”

Yes.

Just like in every other sport where people stand to make a lot of money from being the best.

But when it comes to MMA, where one fight can be the difference between signing a six figure contract or getting canned, and where the outcome of the fight rests solely on your shoulders once the first round starts, the pressure to win causes many fighters to either dabble in or go whole hog at improving their game with PEDs.

For the record, I do not encourage the use of banned PEDs.

Heck, I barely recommend legal OTC supplements, other than fish oil, whey protein, greens powder and maybe some glutamine/BCAA’s when training gets heavy.

With that being said, I’m going to talk a bit about the main types of PEDs that are being used by MMA fighters today and then give you my solution to this controversial topic.

Here we go…

1. Anabolic PEDs

Anabolic PEDs include your various steroids and growth hormones.

Fighters take these to increase their muscle mass and strength, increase aggressiveness, increase pain tolerance and improve recovery from injury.

Unfortunately, whenever you mess with hormones, you run the risk of some serious long-term health concerns, cancer to name one.

Some might say it’s about how much you take and how long, but there are so many things that mess with our hormones nowadays (plastics, pollution) that willingly exposing ourselves to powerful substances like GH is asking for trouble down the road.

The downfalls include bacne, gyno, small balls, cancer and an uncontrollable urge to drive your head and or fist through the closest wall.

Sign me up. NOT.

2. Blood Doping

Blood doping is the most common PED in endurance events such as cycling and marathon running.

That’s because the goal of blood doping is to improve endurance by increasing the percentage of hemoglobin in your blood.

Think of hemoglobin as little envelopes that carry oxygen to your muscles.

The more envelopes, the more oxygen gets delivered.

There are 2 main ways to blood dope: take a substance called Erythropoietin (EPO), which triggers an increase in hemoglobin, or by drawing out your own blood, removing some of the plasma (liquid), resulting in a relatively higher concentration of hemoglobin, then injecting the blood back into your system.

A natural way to increase hemoglobin is to train at altitude, or at least live at a high altitude.

However, living at altitude will never result in hemoglobin levels that can be produced through EPO or doping.

Downfalls include high blood pressure, possible organ failure (heart, kidneys), and risk of cancer.

Another woo-hoo.

3. Uppers / Stimulants

These can range from as simple and common as caffeine (usually only an ungodly amount would be considered illegal) to cold meds like sudafed (ephedrine), to even more powerful stimulants like amphetamines.

Obviously, these work to increase mental alertness and energy by stimulating the nervous system.

Side effects include rapid heart beat, insomnia and the desire to dance all night wearing goofy clothes and waving glow sticks around.

4. Diuretics

Finally, diuretics are generally taken to help a fighter make weight by helping them pee out all of the liquid in their body.

Hold on a sec, I have to pee just thinking about it.

OK I’m back.

Problems with diuretics include muscle cramps, kidney failure and heart failure.

OK, so there you have the 4 main types of drugs being used by MMA fighters to enhance their performance.

Here’s the thing…

Unless you’re in the UFC, you really, really don’t need to be taking PEDs.

If you’re fighting in smaller shows or you just want to get a couple of fights in to test yourself and say you did it, then for most opponents, all you need is 3 things:

  1. You’re comfortable with all of the basics, you have good defense and you have your go-to moves (a great resource if you want to master the basics is Jeff Joslin’s MMA Quickstart program, see www.MMAQuickStart.net)
  2. You’re relaxed
  3. You’re in great shape (shameless plug for my Ultimate MMA S&C program)

If you have these 3 things, then you’re good to go and will come out of your amateur career with a winning record.

Seriously.

When I go to small local shows, most fighters on these shows are seriously lacking in at least 1 of these 3 areas, so if you’ve got all 3 bases covered, you’re golden.

Now if and when you get to the UFC, taking drugs or not is a tough decision to make and you can cross that bridge when you get there.

I don’t judge these guys based on my sense of morality, I mean, these guys have families to feed, bills to pay and they’re dealing with a lot of pressure to win, so it is a tough choice to make.

I would just rather not have drugs being the reason why one fighter beats another.

Eric’s Solution to the Drug Problem in MMA

It’s simple.

The UFC can split off into 2 leagues: one that’s all natural and has super strict testing, and one where ANYTHING GOES.

In the Doped-Up Fighting League (DUFL), they could enhance safety by educating the fighters on the best ways to use the drugs so they don’t do stupid things like take too much causing their hearts to implode

Think about the buildup to the fights – you could have DUFL Unleashed where they show the behind the scenes drug injections and catch the champ throwing his dog across the room because he barked at the doorbell.

The entertainment!

Then, the All Natural Fight League would be where the true superstars reside, the true athletes.

These guys are confident in their abilities, respectful of their opponents and they want to be good role models to the kids of tomorrow by showing what hard work, discipline and dedication are honourable standards to live by vs. winning at all costs.

I, for one, would watch both leagues and think this is a brilliant idea.

The DUFL would probably make for more ‘entertainment’ but the ANFL would be more satisfying to watch, kinda like the difference between watching MMA and actually participating in it – it’s not entertaining to get your ass tapped out or punched in the nose, but somehow, it’s oddly satisfying.

How about you? What do you think of this idea?

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whatever
whatever

so u want to say it this way lets make mass media attack on drugs enhancement and trick people into thinking they are the bad ones while naturals in pro level are the good ones as if there is naturals in pro level god u want to see some one injecting or taking people do u think those professional athlete take it in dirty needle really ??

Hinksey
Hinksey

That is a blindin idea quality article… legend

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Vovan
Vovan

Eric,

if they are all on drugs (professionals), how do they pass drug tests?

Eric

Easy – they simply stop taking them in enough time for it to clear out of the system before testing, which they know will be the day of the fight.

That’s why random tests are good – because the athlete won’t know when a test is coming and won’t be able to get rid of the drugs in time.

whatever
whatever

sadly those tests won’t always work cause inside most of the support u have corrupted people i wonder after 100 years will we be arguing about natural vs augmented maybe ?? or naturals vs gene modified

whatever
whatever

they have doctors they not amateur when it come to there body they have vast medical knowledge plus doctors coaches

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Wild Triathlon

hey eric,

Nice post!

mike newm

Hi my way would to say if in UFC ,WEC, which ever one it may be ! If you fight on a monthly or up 2 every 3 months. I would or suggust bring in drug testing every 2,3,months . If a champion may be a little more ,i know it’s hard to agree wot you can do and cant do. It was said that the thill of the fight is to see 2 people bashing the hell out of each other!thats wot most fans like to see,me on the other hand like to see say andrson silver the spider when he moves round ,but does he never get hit and when ground game comes into play they boo! wot will they be shoutting next kill ,kill ,kill.at the end of the day it’s all about skill i think thats why it’s call MMA….Eric keep up the good and the… Read more »

Josh
Josh

Here is the problem with your two league theory. Just because there are two leagues does not stop someone who is social-morally conflicted to still try and compete in the “All-Natural” League while still using PED’s. Thats a common issue in all sports today, you can add a DUL but there will still be people DU’d trying to compete under the premise that they are All-Natural.

codie
codie

now ” tross” you do present information in an objective manner and it is very much appreciated personally an over aggressive approach as previously used may tend to seem pushed upon those who are not supporters of said beliefs thank you for doing it right

gina
gina

that is possibly the best thing you have ever written. keep your balls

tross
tross

Oh yeah, and keep up the good work Eric – I think it is very clear that you are being respectful and open minded – this shows strength of character and reflects the spirit of martial arts!

tross
tross

In the name of objective observation I find it interesting that the supporters of P.E.D.’s here present as overly aggressive – conincidence? Those of you who do not have a science based education and are intrigued by the “scientific argument” used above in favour of P.E.D’s, I suggest you start your own research (google scholar is a good starting point if you do not have access to a database). Try starting with an article in the world renowned, highly respected, peer reviewed medical journal ‘The Lancet” (Use of doping agents, particularly anabolic steroids, in sports and society, The Lancet, Volume 371, Issue 9627, Pages 1872-1882 F. Sjöqvist, M. Garle, A. Rane): link = http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0140673608608016. There is science and then there is science….Please remember that scientific observation is an ongoing process and that to-date there are very few “laws of science”. The best we can do is get ourselves informed, make… Read more »

codie
codie

oh almost forgot you know i do have one more thing that keeps my testosterone up…. seeeexxx so shrinking the package seems like quite a side effect

codie
codie

i love this and to the one up there defending steriods i do respect your opinion and wish you luck someday maybe in the “DUFL” if thatg is what you would like to do but fighting to me to most i think is about heart is about skill is about love for the sport and ive no place for peds and i think mma should have no place for peds if you cant do it yourself then train harder tap into your emotions whatever and if you still cant do it maybe your not meant to you think the greek wrestlers or the gladiators were doping? id say not this is something i really disagree with and should i ever make it big id love to show a doper that heart is my only ped

Bruce
Bruce

The answer is simple!

if you can’t do it without the use of DRUGS then don’t do it,

they are damaging to your health and to your wealth… That is Wealth of life, why would anyone knowingly take a toxin into their body when it will lead damage, use may give victory in the short term… but this is very short lived when the next winner comes along and you are forgotten.

Well speech over, and i am probably wrong!

ph

…injury wise, I can see the relevance there – insurance for fighters doesn’t come cheap – and everyone who’s ever juiced knows the miracles that deca can work for any joint injuries. But that in itself is not performance enhancement – the athletes are using it just to bring themselves back to ‘normal’ Someone brought up the excuse about training 40 hours/week – sure its tough, and injuries will occur. So train smarter and safer – no need for gear I’m sorry but that is a lame excuse. I agree with Eric, I don’t care what science says. To gain an ILLEGAL edge in any sport is cheating – and in my book cheaters = pussies. So to answer Eric’s question: I think the general dumbed down populous of non-fighters would rather see 2 geared up monsters slug it out rather than 2 naturally gifted athletes…I can flip on the… Read more »

Larry
Larry

Uhmmmm! Hard one to call. There’s good points everywhere

Eric

@ Link,

No, I did not take your reply as disrespectful at all.

I’m actually telling you straight up that I haven’t looked into the scientific studies, but even if the science tells me it’s good for me, I won’t mess with the stuff.

Science has proven to be fallible time and time again.

Heh, yeah you might be kicking my ass when we’re in our 80’s, who knows – your science vs. my theory?

I’m willing to wait it out to see. 🙂

Anyway, you’ve piqued my curiousity, I’m gonna shoot you an email to see some of your studies. Thanks for the offer.

mike newm

well done Eric ur wockouts are amazing you are a role model to all none drug fight’s ,Yes they should let two fighting parts take place steds v steds and natural v natural.Very very good idea,your workout with goal post jumping poles running ect….All fit and well with out paying for gym fees in hard times at the moment,so thanks YOU Eric excellent work …

Stirner
Stirner

One thing science has discovered in the past 6 years since you posted this, is that fish oil does more harm than good. Stay away from fish oil, only eating actual fish is healthy.

Mike
Mike

Hey Eric,

great post….I have a quick question….Do you think it is worth it to take Gaspari Superpump 250 before workouts??

thanks

Eric

Read the article again and you can tell me what you think I’d say.

Link Bass

If anyone wants to see the studies I have….. shoot me over an email. I would be more than happy to share these studies with you. And show you what science says, not “bro logic.” I have been studying this for almost 20 years, and have multiple degrees in the medical field. This is my last email, as I can’t fix someone’s false beliefs, only show them fact. “can’t fix stupid….love those blue collar guys,lol” But I will be more than happy to share the studies that I have with anyone who wants to learn.

Aldosterone,Atrial Fibrillation,Blood Clotting,Cholesterol,Cortisol,Dementia,DHEA,,Estradiol in Men,Estrogen, Depression, and Chronic Fatigue,Growth Hormone,Immunity
Medical Disorders, Heart Disease, Obesity, Oncogenes, Osteoporosis,PCOS,Pregnenolone,Progestins,Progesterone, Steroid Delivery, Thyroid Hormone, Testosterone, for guys, Testosterone, for Women,Testosterone and the Heart,Testosterone and the Prostate,Testosterone and the Metabolic Syndrome,Vitanutrients

link_bass@hotmail.com

Big O
Big O

Don’t waste your time Link Bass non of this people are fighters ,their sheep’s of the industry they wont bother to read anything !!! They do what the main stream media tell them ! They live in a fantasy thinking my favorite fighter don’t use P.E.D’s because he is in the U.F.C ! Yea right its call cycling morons !!! And more than 75% of combat athletes use some form of P.E.D’s at any given time !!! It should not be up to keyboard warriors to say who should use it or should not it should be to the fighters it self!! In my opinion let every body use what ever they want its their body!!! You can roid all you want if your not better than me your not going to win!!! All the roid propaganda like i said before its base on bull shit they want you to… Read more »

Link Bass

And this is how the rumor start….there could be 1000 different reasons for those symptoms. “Roids,” is a very arbitrary term. I would bet my life that your friend’s condition was not caused by the hormones that we was taking, if he was taking anything at all. Chances are he seen some knock off product at GNC called, Dboll, or something to the effect with tons of stimulants. Did you know that Vitamin C has more health side effects than your “killer steroids” do. In fact more people have gone to the emergency room because of multivitamins than steroids!!!! It’s a fact. Look, I’m not saying go out and do them. But what I am saying is for people who make the claims that you are making, you should make damn sure your blaming the right compound for the condition. Obviously you have no idea what your friends family health… Read more »

Stirner
Stirner

Link Bass said: ” In fact more people have gone to the emergency room because of multivitamins than steroids!!!! ”

And if you really are a professional researcher than you know that you’re being disingenuous. Of course more people go to the hospital for multivitamin OD than steroids, because thousands of times more people take multivitamins than steroids. You might as well be claiming that strychnine is less poisonous than beer because more people wind up in the emergency room for drinking too much beer than ingesting too much strychnine. As far as I’m concerned once you issue BS, everything else you say can be safely ignored.

jason
jason

i trained mma and boxing for a bit and a friend of mine joined me in the boxing training and he started taking a steroid made him looked ripped faster then then it took me and i almost starting taking them until he didnt show up to work or the gym for a couple of days finally got a hold of him and he said he thought he was gonna die he was completely dehydrated and his heart kept racing and his parents found him passed out in the living room

he turned out to be alright and throw the rest in the trash

Tim

If you wanna see the drama, watch pro wrestling. If you wanna see drugged up fighters, watch Dream or any other Japan based fight league. That’s where all the fighters go when they’re kicked outta respectable fighting organizations. The DUFL idea just seems like another reality show.

Eric

The DUFL was somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

My main point was that let’s let the guys who want to cheat, cheat, but in MMA, because you have the potential to be seriously hurt and because I want to see what one person’s dedication and intelligent training is like against another person’s dedication and intelligent training, without some unnatural substance thrown into the mix.

I mean, for sports like baseball, who gives a shit (pardon my french) if they juice?

No one’s getting hurt and I sure as heck like watching home runs more than ground outs any day.

But MMA is a battle between 2 men and I don’t want to see one man lose to a genetically modified organism.

I would, however, enjoy watching 2 GMOs going at it. 🙂

Tim

You said: “My main point was that let’s let the guys who want to cheat, cheat, but in MMA, because you have the potential to be seriously hurt and because I want to see what one person’s dedication and intelligent training is like against another person’s dedication and intelligent training, without some unnatural substance thrown into the mix.” I agree with that Eric. That’s what I was getting at as well. There are already other leagues that allow the use of steroids, and if a fighter doesn’t want to follow the rules of the organization he’s part of, that particular league shouldn’t want to do business with that kind of person. That’s just my opinion. From what I’ve seen, Dana White does not take crap, so I don’t see why he would want to accept someone who doesn’t honor the rules that the company’s president set down. If you don’t… Read more »

Link Bass

Sir, I appreciate your desire to address the subject of banned substances being a part of athletic competition. I personally believe that if you are going to fight, then you should be tested. That being said, one needs to be careful of how they talk about the side effects for hormones. Bioidentical hormones such as Testosterone are not, I repeat not synthetic hormones pushed by big pharma. These latter drugs have side effects that can kill you because they are unnatural, however, there is not one piece of scientific evidence that shows taking bioidentical hormones leads to cancer, if fact sir, they say just the contrary. I have hundreds of studies that show the long term side effects of taking steroids at a controlled high level are nothing but healthy. I can show you study after study on how these drugs strengthen your immune system, bones, ligaments, skin, and actually… Read more »

ph

Eric, great job keeping everyone informed. Not everyone is an endocrinologist and understands the intricacies of how hormones affect the body. I know a thing or 2 about hormones and can tell you, in 100% certainty that testosterone that does not bind (or is not used by the body), is metabolized into DHT – and it is documented and proven that DHT plays a role in prostate enlargement…as well as prostate cancer. …and that’s just test. What about all the other stuff these guys are using? …winstrol is also popular (to get that cut, hard look). Anyways, even short cycles of winny wreak havok on the the liver. On the same note that people ‘parrot’ what they hear/read on tv/internet – people like this parrot what they read on bodybuilding forums on the internet – where academia and hard science is cast aside in favor of bro-science. Like Bas Ruten… Read more »

Big O
Big O

Then every body its a pussy that fights in MMA and Boxing . Every body is using some kind of P.E.D !!! And who are us to call them pussy’s ? You don’t train 4 to 6 hrs a day and you don’t spar 40 rounds a week !!! The majority of P.E.D are use to heal injury’s that o cur while training leave the fighters do what they can to feed their family’s ! Its funny the ones that complain about P.E.D’s are people that don’t fight !! Ain’t this a free world??? Take this for example i had a torn meniscus and had to get surgery over 5,000.00 dollars in medical expenses using a P.E.D for 8 weeks i was able to rehab my knee to better condition than before injury my total pocket cost was less than 300.00 for the therapy time. So now you see why… Read more »

Eric

Big O,

That’s the one grey area for sure… I wouldn’t say the majority of PEDs are used to heal injuries at all, as I know for a fact lots of guys without injuries use them during training.

The decreased recovery time and improved strength and energy definitely help a user get more out of their regular training regime, allowing them to train more often and at a higher level.

Where’s the line???

There is no clear cut answer, which my article kind of continues to put forth.

I can tell you I’ll never use them, I’ll never recommend them, but as I mentioned, those guys at a higher level who do use them, I don’t judge them negatively, however I think when 2 guys step into the cage together, one should not be juiced up while the other is au naturel.

Link Bass

Resent studies have show that prostate cancer is not caused by testosterone. Email me if you want the study. You are correct that it can cause the tumor, if there is one to grow. Did you know that the castration drugs have just as many side effects as the cancer themselves? Food for thought.
link_bass@hotmail.com

Rollmodel
Rollmodel

LMFAO @ “Bro Science” ……………just wanted to comment on that “phrase” I will use that if you don’t mind…lol That being said, I agree and disagree with most everyone who has commented so far. Is using PED’s cheeting?? Yes, unless they change the rules and have DUFL matches as Eric proposed, however, I do believe that the recent negative hype from the recent bullsh-t baseball circus and the media playing their usual idiotic role in reporting on something that they have not a fraction of legitimate education in has given Anaboloics a “Devil” like persona. I do believe these type hormones have a place in medicine where they and can be used to promote a healthier and better life for people who have a legitimate need, but who is king on what is defined by legitimate right! I personally do not have a problem with anyone juicing if that is… Read more »

Eric

You definitely called me out on that one, eh? 🙂 Here’s the thing – the truth is that I don’t always look to the scientific research to base my opinions, mainly because to do a scientific experiment, you need to create an artificial environment, which doesn’t always carryover to the real world. Because of this limitation of science, for right or wrong, I choose to base my opinions on my core values and principles. One of those is that whenever we artificially mess with our hormones, trouble is likely to occur. Since you’re well versed in the literature I’m sure you know that the standard dose-response relationship does not apply to hormone disruptors, things like xenoestrogens. My assumption is that it trasnfers over to anything that affects our normal hormone balance. Plus, I’m sure you know that all hormones in the body are related and work synergistically, as one goes… Read more »

Link Bass

My intention was not to be disrespectful on your forum. Only to state that the negative connotations with anabolics are due to media sensationalism and not on fact. Sorry if my tone came across as confrontational

Roland
Roland

What propaganda do you parrot?
Who made those studies?
Who told fighters, that they must live of fighting?

I think everyone just want to sell something, no one actually cares what’s good for you, you must use your own common sense. Is it natural to consume additional hormones? Heck no. And if someone tells me that it is ok, and there is not a piece of scientific evidence proving it’s unhealthy, I have to laugh. I ain’t don’t need no piece of scientific evidence.
I don’t even willing to eat whey protein, I’m happier without the junk of milk pushed through some nanofilters flavored with banana. For that price I rather eat some chicken, baked with cheese.

Link Bass

There is science that shows balancing your natural decline in hormones is healthy and it’s natural. At least the hormones are….. You can have your opinions, but they are not based upon science, they are just “your feelings.” So the world is round my friend, feelings and scientific evidence are not one in the same. When I’m younger looking, stronger, live longer, you’ll be wishing you checked into it.

PH
PH

…when you have to drink a gallon of flow-ease just to pass urine you’ll wish you looked into other methods to combat frailty.

Mike
Mike

Great article Eric – I didn’t know about blood doping. Sounds good might have to try it. j/k 🙂

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