In the wake of several high-profile incidents of drug use among MMA stars, the calls for increased testing in mixed martial arts continue to grow.
Less than three days before his UFC 146 matchup, heavyweight Roy Nelson became the highest-profile fighter to ask for voluntary testing, saying he would make the offer to future opponents to subject themselves to it as a way to help clean up the sport.
Speaking to reporters during a media scrum at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Nelson, who faces Dave Herman on Saturday night, said he's had it with cheaters and intends to do something about it.
"The way I look at it is, I used to always be very passive knowing all the people who do cheat in this business," he said. "I want to be like the Jose Canseco [of MMA], and say, 'Here’s my book. [Here is] who’s on it and who’s cheating.'"
Nelson, who has been working with Floyd Mayweather's uncle, Jeff Mayweather, in the leadup to his bout, said he was stealing one of Floyd's lines that related to Manny Pacquiao, that "If you want to be the best, you must test."
He is open to working with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, the organization that has been in the news recently for catching boxers Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson in positive drug tests before major fights.
To date, Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren is the only major mixed martial arts to voluntarily sign on with VADA, but Nelson said he was willing to do the same and even pay for testing him and his opponent out of his own pocket if necessary.
"I’ll do all the blood tests, the whole nine yards," he said. "Random, real random, not where you can go cycle, cycle, then cycle off and pee in the cup.
“I’ll be the guy who says it and then say, ‘That guy doesn’t want to test. I wonder why,’” he said.
Nelson didn't finger his Saturday night opponent Herman or anyone else specifically for drug use, although Herman did once fail a test due to marijuana use.
He also said if his future opponent declines to take part in voluntary testing, it wouldn't be a deal-breaker. Instead, he said he would point out their refusal and place them under suspicion.
"If they don’t want to take the fight, I’ll take the fight because I’ll still fight anybody in the world," he said. "But if they don’t want to test, it’ll just show how corrupt the sport is. It’s one of those things, either you fix it or you don’t. And you kind of have to draw the line in the sand and say, let’s fix it, or let’s not."
Good news for Nelson; some help may be on the way. Just a few days ago, UFC president Dana White told The Los Angeles Times he is likely to take action in helping to clean up MMA’s biggest organization.
“We're going to do our own testing, order these guys into [a lab]; we're sorting it out now," he said. "You have to do this to save the sport. You can't have these guys fighting on this stuff."
Within the last month, the UFC has had three high-profile incidents related to drug testing. In one, No. 1 heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem was denied a fighter's license in Nevada after being flagged for a high testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in a random test. In another, welterweight standout Nick Diaz was suspended one year for marijuana use, and in the third, middleweight contender Chael Sonnen was given a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) in Nevada for testosterone replacement therapy for his upcoming UFC middleweight title rematch against Anderson Silva. Sonnen’s successful request came less than two years after having been busted for testosterone use in California without a TUE.
UFC President Dana White (above) embarrassed after Gray Maynard beat Clay Guida by split decision to win a lightweight bout and the main event of the UFC card in Atlantic City.
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