The UFC have to be rooting for Daniel Cormier to smash Josh Barnett, right? The heavyweight division is still so thin, recently illustrated once more by Frank Mir getting another title shot. The winner of this fight is going to be right "in the mix," but with all the bad press surrounding Alistair Overeem, TRT and everything else, how could they risk Barnett in a big fight or even a main event? Also, would it be possible for a fighter like Barnett, with a history of steroid use, to get approved for TRT? -- Joseph from Vermont
TJ De Santis, Sherdog Radio Network program director: I think you're echoing the thoughts of most MMA fans out there but not necessarily the UFC's.
When it was announced that Zuffa had acquired Strikeforce, I felt Barnett would probably not be with the company following the tournament. If Barnett exits the Zuffa roster -- win, lose, or draw -- I think that the reasoning will be based on his personal differences with management rather than steroid use.
The world of mixed martial arts has changed a lot. With TRT and other chatter about performance-enhancing drugs in the news, I personally forget half of the guys that have tested positive and those who have not. Let me throw some names out there: Stephan Bonnar, Kit Cope, Nate Marquardt, Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca, Anthony Torres, Cole Province, Chael Sonnen, Thiago Silva, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, and Muhammed Lawal.
That is a list of fighters that have tested positive for PEDs, their metabolites or elevated levels of testosterone following a fight in a show put on by Zuffa since 2005, when "The Ultimate Fighter" made the sport more popular. Of those fighters, how many are truly vilified for their deeds? Sherk, Sonnen and “Cyborg” are the only names that I see fans booing, and the jeers for Sonnen might be more for his antics than his elevated testosterone and TRT issues.
The point is that Zuffa can spin anything it wants to, including a fighter that has tested positive for steroids on three different occasions. If casual fans watch a Barnett fight in the UFC and Mike Goldberg or Joe Rogan does not bring up his past, a giant chunk of viewers remain clueless of Barnett's past.
The finals of the Strikeforce grand prix will be at its old stomping grounds, the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Barnett had to go in front of the California State Athletic Commission to make sure this fight could even happen there. If Barnett for any reason has a problem with his samples, he will more than likely be forced into Japanese pro-wrestling forever, but if he is able to keep his nose clean, he belongs inside the UFC's heavyweight division.
I fear that, at this point, I am sounding too much like the CSAC. I don't think California necessarily “needs big fights,” as its commissioners unfortunately said out loud, but the UFC heavyweight division sure does. If Barnett is still one of the best heavyweights in the world, he should be competing with them. Worst-case scenario: he wins the grand prix, goes to the UFC, wins a title and tests hot. Well, the UFC has been there before. It is a terrible situation to be in, but there is a familiar protocol that will be followed: management goes into damage-control mode, the PR department writes up a release and fans forget about the positive test once they get excited for a four-man tournament or a marquee matchup for the vacant title or something else that they honestly care about more than whether or not a repeat offender has done so again.
Wow, I just made a case for a known steroid user to get a fourth chance? Have I really become so numb to “cheating?”
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