MMA Weekly (12/18-12/25): Cris Cyborg Fails USADA Drug Test, Cain Velasquez Off UFC 207
This week, MMA news came second to Santa Clause’s arrival, but nevertheless, we were able to enjoy some solid bout announcements, and we were also faced with an unfortunate and high-profile USADA drug-test-failure.
Ronda Rousey’s loss to Amanda Nunes came as a shock to some, but we weren’t so surprised as you can see from Shane McLendon’s breakdown of the fight. You can check out the highlights just below.
Let’s recap all this week’s MMA developments!
Cris Cyborg Fails USADA Drug Test, Faces One-Year MMA Ban
Cris Cyborg is being faced with her toughest opponent to date, in a fight outside the Octagon: USADA.
It was revealed this week that Cyborg failed an out-of-contest USADA drug test, as spironolactone, a diuretic, was found in her system. This substance is illegal both in and out of active competition.
Now, Cyborg is facing a one-year ban from the sport, and even if she is somehow miraculously able to avoid or shorten this sentence, there will still be a stigma around her—mainly because many believe she fails the “eye test”, and more pressingly, because she popped for anabolic steroids in 2011.
Furthermore, onlookers are correct in assuming that this development completely eradicates the UFC’s carefully laid plans to have Cyborg battle for the featherweight title, and win or lose, set up a top-level bantamweight superfight.
Cyborg has defended her failed test and actions, saying she was under a doctor’s orders to ingest the substance to help recover from a brutal weight cut. Granted, that weight cut was a quarter of a year ago, and we’ve seen plenty of fighters push through much more treacherous conditions, but her plan of action is her own.
Cyborg has been the target of some unjust criticism during her MMA days—some of it being entirely inappropriate and mean-hearted—but there’s no denying that her fighting career is one of the most poorly managed, organized, operated, and actively terrible “professional” efforts of all time. I believe this criticism is justified and fact-based.
Consider this: Cyborg had a huge win streak going when she tested positive for steroids. Promoters were gracious enough to look past this. Cyborg was brutally beaten down when she confusedly accepted a Muay Thai fight on national television with a world champion, Jorina Baars. MMA promoters were gracious enough to look past this.
Then, she made the UFC beg her to move up from Invicta for more money, and once in the UFC, she further draws attention to the fact that she missed the opportunity of a lifetime and then some by failing to step up for a superfight against Ronda Rousey. Cyborg also fails to market herself by refusing to go anywhere near bantamweight, and proves to be further difficult by turning down a women’s featherweight title shot on two and a half months’ notice—over six months since her last fight—that was specifically put together with her in mind!
Now, this failed drug test is the cherry on top of a frustration sundae. The only reason it’s so frustrating to me is because I hate seeing any mixed martial artist not earn to their full potential, and turning down multi-million-dollar title shots, failing drug tests, taking high-risk, low-reward Muay Thai fights, and avoiding becoming champion (and earning a ton more cash) of a division hand-crafted for one’s success is not the way to maximize salary.
Cain Velasquez Removed from UFC 207 by NSAC
Cain Velasquez will not be fighting at UFC 207 after all.
This latest turn in an odd saga is a bummer for UFC fans, Velasquez, and Fabricio Werdum. To dispel rumors of him pulling out of the fight (which had emerged in recent days), Cain posted a video of himself hitting pads and moving well. It looked like everything had been settled at this point, and he’d compete at UFC 207 as was planned. The reasoning behind the doubt in his ability to compete was justified and intelligent, to be blunt, as Velasquez has withdrawn from numerous contests in the past, trains at a gym known for producing injured fighters, and actually has back surgery scheduled for after this fight!
But this time, it actually appears as though he was healthy and prepared for competition. That didn’t matter to the NSAC, which abruptly pulled him from the fight late Saturday night (yes, on Christmas Eve). Now, a huge training camp and a lot of sacrifices were for naught.
We’ll keep you updated as the story unfolds and develops, but right now, it looks like the NSAC has once again overstepped its boundaries.
MMA Fight Announcements
Mark Hunt versus Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 on March 4
It’s fantastic to see that Mark Hunt has gotten his contract and PED concerns ironed out and that Overeem has recovered from a tough loss to heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, because this is a top-notch bout and rematch. Plus, Mark Hunt is a much better fighter than when he was at the time of the first Overeem contest in 2008.
Expect fireworks, craziness, and a great deal of effort from both men, who are fighting for more than a paycheck—for as cliché as it sounds, they’re fighting for honor and validation, to complement storied careers spanning nearly two decades each.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima versus John Phillips at UFC on Fox 23 on January 28
De Lima is a well-rounded and fun finisher, and furthermore, he’s a terrific debut match-up for SBG Ireland product and fellow finisher John Phillips, who has closed each of his twenty-three career wins via knockout or submission, and is currently riding a four-fight winning streak.
Yancy Medeiros versus Jingliang Li at UFC on Fox 23 on January 28
Medeiros and Li are contenders of the future, and fans can watch them showcase their undoubtable improvements at UFC on Fox 23, in what will likely be a quality fight.
Paul Felder versus Gilbert Burns at UFC 208 on February 11
Paul Felder and Gilbert Burns are on the verge of cracking into the top fifteen and win or lose; they always produce must-watch combat. This one might be close to two months away, but fans shouldn’t miss it.
Frankie Saenz versus Augusto Mendes at UFC Fight Night 103 on January 15
Both Saenz and Mendes are capable fighters, but they’ll need to win big here to stay signed with the UFC, more than likely—especially because WME is being so much more critical of its employees and roster than the Fertittas were.
Carlos Diego Ferreira Suspended 17 Months by USADA
Carlos Diego Ferreira, a formidable UFC lightweight up-and-comer, has been issued a 17-month sentence by USADA. This comes after he ingested a supplement which listed a prohibited substance, 7-keto-DHEA, as one of its ingredients and later found that it contained another prohibited substance, Ostarine, which isn’t listed on the ingredients tab.
Based upon this point and the fact that Ferreira declared his ingestion of the substance on his own, he won’t be faced with the standard two-year suspension but will be out of action for 17 months, starting on his failed-test date of April 29.
Seeing someone pop for a supplement is never fun, but like so many other examples, this situation proves that USADA doesn’t play around in the least.
This week was a bit bland in terms of news and combat, but Christmas and other holiday excitement should more than pick up the slack!
Happy holiday week and thanks for reading in 2016.