Notes & nuggets: Curse of 159 strikes again
May, 15, 2013
By Josh Gross
Ed Mulholland for ESPNPat Healy's UFC 159 victory over Jim Miller was overturned after he tested positive for marijuana.UFC 159 karma, you did it again.
Pat Healy revealed Tuesday he was popped for pot after dismantling Jim Miller in Newark a couple weeks ago. So the one guy who appeared unharmed -- better yet, better off -- following the weirdest Zuffa event since the UFC's debut in Las Vegas in 2001 has crashed back to earth.
The submission win, which vaulted Healy into most top-10s at 155, was overturned, and he'll need to forfeit $130,000 in bonuses. Yeah, the same "life-changing" money the 29-year-old mauler talked so blissfully about postfight. Zuffa, it seems, will withhold those bonuses for good.
It's the promoter's decision, which may come across as curious since UFC executive Marc Ratner asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission in March to reconsider meting out hefty punishments in the wake of marijuana cases.
"Right now, I just cannot believe that a performance-enhancing drug and marijuana can be treated the same," Ratner said at the time. "It just doesn't make sense to the world anymore, and it's something that I think has to be brought up."
As is usually the case, UFC is the entity that sets the tone. Rescinding Healy's bonuses for fight and submission of the night certainly sends a clear message -- even if it contradicts what the company's head of regulatory affairs advocated for less than two months ago.
Healy said in a statement that he takes responsibility after making a poor life choice a month before the bout. So karma did its thing with him. What about the rest of us? Are we done? Has penance been paid? Or will the bad mojo surrounding Jon Jones' ill-fated booking against Chael Sonnen linger?
Hunting for answers
If next weekend's heavyweight title eliminator between former UFC champion Junior dos Santos and late bloomer Mark Hunt is scrapped, you know what I'm blaming. (Hint: see above.)
As of now, though, the UFC says Hunt will secure a visa from New Zealand to the U.S., and will step into the Octagon on May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. There is no Plan B.
Susumu Nagao for ESPN.comThe UFC believes Mark Hunt will be able to secure a visa in time for his UFC 160 bout with Junior dos Santos.
Hunt suggested "some stupid misunderstanding" is keeping the U.S. Consulate from allowing the heavyweight entry into the country. It has been reported that a past legal issue, which Hunt said "happened a long time ago" and "should be cleared up," is responsible for the delay.
Living on the other side of the world, Hunt didn't want to arrive in Las Vegas less than a week from his bout. He's wary because the last time he fought in the desert for K-1, in 2003, he didn't have time to acclimate. Or as Hunt put it during a conference call Tuesday to promote UFC 160, "climatize." He said he's frustrated.
"At the end of the day, I want to get out of here and get to the bout with Junior," Hunt said.
UFC director of communications Dave Sholler said the promotion anticipates Hunt "making his way to the U.S. this weekend."
Cejudo will fight
Following up on a story that ran a couple weekends ago, 2008 Olympic wrestling champion Henry Cejudo will fight May 18 in an unregulated Gladiators Challenge event outside Sacramento, Calif.
Cejudo's manager, Bill McFarlane, continues to object to the opponent, Miguelito "Darkness" Marti, whose record is unverifiable, and the conduct of the promoter, Tedd Williams.
"It has been almost one month since we asked for validation and it simply is not forthcoming," McFarlane said. "Unfortunately, misrepresentations and misinformation only continues. A Gladiator Challenge representative has acknowledged substantial operational weaknesses, throughout the organization, including inadequate recordkeeping and the urgent need for immediate changes. Again, we have been promised that necessary changes will be made, and are hopeful that they will follow through on their promised changes immediately."
Williams stands by Marti, claiming the unknown would beat Cejudo's previous opponents if he fought them all -- at the same time. It's all a bit ridiculous. Marti has published several videos on YouTube, including a pro wrestling response to my story on the fight.
"So go ahead keep looking at my Facebook. Look me up on Google. You can search the ends of heaven and earth and you won't find out nothing about me," Marti cautioned. "Because you call yourself Henry 'The Messenger' Cejudo, well, I can guarantee you this: When 'Darkness' falls upon you, I'll have you questioning your faith."
Right. So this is happening on Saturday.
Bellator champ wants more drug testing
Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, a member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling squad that featured Cejudo, took to Twitter over the weekend to mock an article about why fighters competing in his promotion don't fail drug tests.
"Hard to fail a test when you don't take it," Askren wrote. "Only been tested once!"
That's once in 11 fights (eight of which have come under the Bellator banner).
Sherdog.comBen Askren has been outspoken about what he perceives to be a lack of drug testing in Bellator.
Askren has long been an outspoken critic of the state of performance-enhancing drug use in mixed martial arts. For his last bout, which happened on unregulated tribal land in Oklahoma, he agreed to a testing program conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. He believes the onus is on commissions to handle testing, but relying on that alone leaves gaping holes in how Bellator fighters are tested.
"Testing by state athletic commissions is discretionary by each commission, and Bellator is held to exactly the same standard drug-testing rules and regulations as is the UFC," said the promotion's director of public relations, Anthony Mazzuca. "Bellator conducted 11 events from January through April 2013, and each and every one of those events were fully controlled and regulated ABC-sanctioned events."
Bellator is on shaky ground trying to compare itself with the UFC when it comes to being serious about drug testing. Zuffa has come very far in this department, a major difference between its brand of MMA and everyone else's. If Bellator's relevance continues to expand under parent company Viacom's watch, its drug-testing standards will only come under more scrutiny.
The toll that Bellator's tournament format takes from fighters, with the potential for three bouts in three months, makes it an obvious place where PEDs may come into the picture. There's plenty of room for Bellator to grow here. Good job by Askren, maybe Bellator's best champion, for raising awareness.