On the NSAC’s Banning of TUE for TRT


Late last week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) ruled to eliminate the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and I am definitely in the camp of people who support this change.

The fighter most commonly talked about as related to the issues with TRT is Vitor Belfort, who has seen a resurgence in his mid 30s, including three consecutive vicious KOs in his home country of Brazil over three top 10 middleweights: the seeming gatekeeper to the MW elite in Michael Bisping, former Strikeforce Champ Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. (Sidenote: Brazil followed the NSAC’s lead, and will be no haven for Belfort.) The fact that he was pulled from a championship fight at UFC 173 almost immediately after the decision was made did not inspire any kind of confidence, right alongside the now secret random drug test results that NSAC will not be able to release due to Belfort’s withdrawal.

All that being said, I have to point this out: TRT in MMA has proven to be a lot like steroids in baseball. For every Barry Bonds allegedly on steroids and lighting up the world, there are the Jordany Valdespins, guys who are taking it to make it, not simply to improve their already world class skills.

We see this on list of MMA TUE provided by ESPN.

  • While Vitor has been on a tear lately, his record while on TRT is 5-2. (Granted, those losses came to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, both considered the top pound for pound fighter at the time.
  • Frank Mir, a former heavyweight Champ, is 0-4 while fighting with an exemption. Seems to be really working out for him.
  • Dan Henderson is 8-5 in 13 fights, including multiple championship bout losses.

So, using these 3 fighters as the example, as they are 3 of the most well known TRT users (Chael Sonnen could easily have been included and served the same purpose. 8-5 record, multiple championship bout losses). None of them have yet risen to championship levels, being steamrolled by the champ on most occasions (Sonnen vs Silva I a notable counterexample, but Sonnen tested positive for elevated T levels beyond exemption limits). And these are the top guys. Most of that list is guys trying to keep their job by any means possible, and in the UFC the way to do that is winning.

While I am a fan of the ban, I do think TRT’s impact on the MMA game has been kind of overblown.


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