UFC star Ronda Rousey delivers brutal takedown of fighter PED use

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Whether they do it to make themselves bigger, faster or stronger, or simply to help training injuries heal, far too many of the world's best fighters take the easy way out.

Performance-enhancing drug usage is pervasive in MMA. If it seems like there is a flood of positive tests, consider what it might be like if all state athletic commissions implemented random, unannounced testing.

The sheer number of cheaters who would be caught would dwarf anything that is going on now.

Ronda Rousey has no tolerance for fighters using PEDs. (Getty)
Ronda Rousey has no tolerance for fighters using PEDs. (Getty)

UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has been an outspoken critic of PED use by fighters. She has long been a fan of legendary former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and said the news that he'd tested positive for two anabolic steroids hit her hard.

"I was heartbroken to hear that," Rousey told Yahoo Sports. "I wanted to cry."

Rousey, a two-time U.S. Olympian and a bronze medalist in judo at the 2008 Games in Beijing, has long been outspoken in favor of stricter testing of MMA fighters.

She told Yahoo Sports that she believes that the first time a fighter tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug, he or she should not only be banned for one year, but also should forfeit 100 percent of his or her purse to the opponent.

A second positive test, she said, should result in a lifetime ban.

"People need to realize that is a weapon and they're bringing a weapon into the cage and they're making our sport unsafe," said Rousey, who is scheduled to fight Cat Zingano at UFC 184 on Feb. 28. "The day that a person dies in that Octagon and the person who killed them tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs, we're going to have our first homicide case. It's going to destroy the whole sport.

"Do you think that one little pay-per-view getting a couple of extra views is worth that? No, it's not [expletive] worth it. I think there needs to be as strict of drug testing as there is for the Olympics, maybe even harder."

There are myriad legal issues that need to resolved before the sport's major promoters, the UFC and Bellator, can implement their own year-round testing programs. Unfortunately, most state athletic commissions don't have the budget to test randomly the way it is needed.

Though many fighters are being caught by Nevada, California and a few other states that are trying, many others get away with it. The fighters have to know by now that once they're in camp, they're likely to be tested if they're fighting in Nevada.

And whenever you know you're going to be tested, even if you don't know the specific day, you can plan for it. Thus, it's not uncommon for a fighter turned cheater to take PEDs after a bout to accelerate the healing process and improve his or her capabilities before heading into the next camp.

Then, the fighter can cycle off as camp starts and can pass a drug screen even though he or she has enjoyed the benefits of illicit usage.

"This is a combat sport, and we're not trying to hit a ball harder," Rousey said. "These drugs can make you hit a person harder. The only reason we're able to do this sport is that the level of human potential is just [low] enough that we can barely allow it. We're right at the threshold.

"It's not like we're getting to the point where it's, 'Oh, we're going to start to have higher world records for weight lifting.' No. We're going to be able to hurt each other more. That's what I'm worried about. I'm worried that this is going to keep escalating and escalating and escalating until somebody dies."

Rousey said her vehement opposition to PEDs is one of the reasons she won't make any concessions to Cris "Cyborg" Justino.

Justino had a drug-test failure when she was in Strikeforce and is now trying to get down to bantamweight so she can fight Rousey in what would be one of the richest women's bouts in history.

Rousey is quite a critic of Cris Justino, above, who has tested positive for PEDs in the past. (Getty)
Rousey is quite a critic of Cris Justino, above, who has tested positive for PEDs in the past. (Getty)

There's a certain irony in the fact that so many of the fans who are upset by all the positive steroid tests in the last few months are also the same ones who are chastising Rousey for failing to agree to move up in weight to fight Justino.

Justino is a large woman and isn't sure she'll be able to safely make 135 pounds. Rousey said if she doesn't, they'll never fight and she won't have any regrets.

"People are going to complain about anything, to be honest," Rousey said of the criticism she's received for not fighting Justino. "I could say I like yellow daffodils and puppies and someone would find a problem with it. And somebody else would have a problem with somebody having a problem with that. So I realize you're never going to make everyone happy.

"I've been ready to fight her at any point. She's the one who left the UFC. She's the one who hasn't come to fight me. Because she's a cheater and a fraud, the last thing I'm going to do is make exceptions for her. I'm not going to move up and make things easier for her, because she's been making things easier for herself her whole life. She needs to learn a lesson that you can't do that [expletive] any more. And I'm here to teach everybody else that that is not acceptable. Cheating and bringing a weapon and trying to hurt someone with that weapon is not a way to get a consideration made for you."

She's right, of course. As is former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is not going to fight again until there is a comprehensive drug-testing plan in place.

Rousey is arguably the UFC's brightest star now.

Inarguably, she shines brightest whenever she speaks out on the one issue that is threatening to bring a tragic end to this wonderful sport.

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