Has it come to this? After so many years of struggle to get to the point where mixed martial arts is finally being accepted as a mainstream sport, is it finally just like all the others? In other words, is the pressure too succeeding in today's MMA world too much? Considering what has transpired within the last month alone these seem like valid questions.
In just a matter of weeks, three of MMA's most well known fighters and arguably the UFC's top two stars are just the latest athletes to fall prey to the underlying stigma of athletes on drugs; whether recreational or performance enhancing. BTW, for the sake of this article, I'm not even including Nick Diaz being busted for marijuana use yet again, because it's not like no one knew this was coming. Diaz has been suspended in the past for weed and doesn't deny being a smoker, so for argument sake, why even bother.
However, when it comes to UFC light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion Jon Jones, former UFC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion Anderson Silva (both pictured above) and World Series of Fighting welterweight (170 lbs.) contender and former UFC title challenger Jon Fitch (pictured here),
In the case of Jon Jones, who was popped for cocaine use, while that news also was a shocker, for many people, including myself, who don't believe anything Jon Jones spits out of his mouth, it wasn't out of the realm. Nonetheless, that aside, in Jones we are talking the UFC's most viable product and next great thing. Ironically, he is replacing Silva, who was the greatest thing before Jones and before horrifyingly breaking his leg in December 2013.
Not surprisingly, the UFC is downplaying these allegations as much as possible; especially in Jones case. To this point it appears a one-night stay in rehabilitation looks like that may be the entire penalty that's forthcoming. Strange considering Diaz was suspended for nine months for marijuana usage previously and Matt Riddle lost his job for supposedly the same thing.
In Silva's defense, he has publicly denied any wrongdoing, but as much as I want to believe this living legend, how many times have we heard this before? Funny how no one ever admits to using PED's, but fighters and athletes in other sports continuously get busted for it. Former major league baseball player Rafael Palmiero pointed his finger in the face of congress and said he had not done any drugs. A lot of good that did him; he's been really quiet since then.
Not surprisingly, so too has Jon Fitch. A long time proponent of natural training and fighting clean, his name coming up as failing a pre-fight drug test may be the biggest surprise of them all. As I commented to someone the other day on a Facebook thread regarding this news, "If Fitch is dirty, then the question now becomes, who is not dirty?"
Sadly it appears that MMA's fight, no pun intended, too become looked upon and accepted the same way as other mainstream sports such as football, basketball and baseball has come at a cost; the same cost those others sports face. The cost too succeed is so high now with TV money and corporate sponsorships as part of the game, that it appears the pressure too succeeding in today's MMA may be too much. That is unless you don't get caught; then at that rate the cost may then become even greater. That is because in a dangerous sport like MMA the cost may be someone's career or even worse and that is way too high a price to pay.