Dr. Johnny Benjamin is among the growing number of industry professionals championing for better drug testing in combat sports.
In fact, MMAjunkie.com's medical columnist and consultant planned a recent meeting with UFC president Dana White about that very topic.
In our latest "Ask the Fight Doc" installment, Dr. Benjamin discusses whatever came of those plans and what's next on his crusade for fighter safety.
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Doc, I enjoy following you on Twitter and was wondering what happened to that meeting you were supposed to have with Dana White to talk about ending steroid use in the UFC. – Anonymous
In 25 words or fewer: Nothing.
Here's a little background for those who have no idea where this question comes from.
As you know, I like to discuss issues regarding fighter/player safety in all sports, especially combat and contact sports. I often tweet my thoughts to share my ideas and have a real-time discussion with people of differing perspectives.
During the lead-up to "UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans" earlier this month, a person on Twitter inadvertently or possibly intentionally created a dialogue between UFC president Dana White and me. During the course of the exchange, I asked and White generously agreed to personally meet with me that week in Las Vegas or Atlanta (the site of UFC 145) to discuss measures to enhance fighter safety, especially independent random PED monitoring.
Needless to say, the Internet went nuts, and I was as excited as my niece preparing for prom night. In less than 10 days, I was going to get a chance to personally discuss the importance of utilizing random independent PED monitoring as a tool to enhance fighter safety with one of the few people on Earth who could actually make it happen. Or so I thought.
To make a long story short and boring, we all know how busy the UFC president is (we really have no idea but his schedule is beyond insane), so I couldn't get confirmed on his schedule, and the meeting hasn't happened – yet.
In fairness to Mr. White, he has about 6,000 things every day more important to do than meeting with me. That fact is not lost on me.
Nothing happened. No future meetings are confirmed. There doesn't appear to be much interest – at least until White's schedule slows down a bit.
Well, not exactly.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm not one to give up easily. I took a step back and thought maybe I can approach this from a slightly different angle. Since fighter safety is truly in the best interest of the fighter (more directly than the organization/promoter), maybe I need to appeal directly to top-level stars.
I wish I could take credit for this brilliant idea, but I cannot.
Regardless of what many may think about the public persona of "Money Mayweather" (aka Floyd Mayweather Jr.), two things remain true: He is the pound-for-pound king, and he made a bold stand by refusing to fight anyone who would not commit to random independent drug monitoring (including blood) regardless of the amount of guaranteed money. (And $50 million is some serious coin. I'd fight my mother on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" for half that. Sorry mom – you know I love you, but you gotta get it.)
Mayweather did not settle for the current, less-than-adequate monitoring offered by cash-strapped governmental agencies. He forced professional boxing into the 21st century by demanding greater fighter safety and cutting the check to the USADA for independent testing. He made a statement: If anyone wants an opportunity at the fortune, fame and glory that fighting him provides, both parties are going to do it in a clean, safe and transparent manner.
Just an idea, but what if a major UFC star such as Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva or Jon Jones mandated that random independent drug testing must be a clause in any and all fight agreements that they sign – or there will be no fight?
Now I'm getting excited again!