In MMA, there are two major problems that are seriously hurting the sport’s progression at this point.

The first is injuries, as evidenced by the insane amount of high-profile bouts that all three major MMA promotions (UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator) were forced to cancel over the last year due to top talent getting forced to the sidelines.

The second is the sport’s ongoing battle against performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), another major issue that has forced several top fighters to miss significant cage time over the years.

In reality, there isn’t really anything anyone can do to try to prevent the injury bug from hitting fighters at the moment. It’s common knowledge amongst fighters that if they want to be considered one of the best in the world then they need to train with fighters on a similar skill level. Once you get a handful of extremely talented athletes working together on a daily basis, it’s inevitable that injuries are going to happen.

However, while the injury crisis is seemingly impossible to fix, the PED problems are much easier to try to weed out, and the UFC recently took another step to try to prevent fighters from taking banned substances.

Zuffa regularly gives out bonus checks to the fighters that earn the fight, knockout and submission “of the Night” awards after each event, but a new rule the promotion has put in place forces fighters to successfully pass a post-fight drug test before receiving their bonus compensation.

Will this be enough to convince fighters to stop using performance enhancers? Probably not, but at least it shows that the UFC is making an effort to convince its employees to stay away from substances that damage both the credibility of the fighter and the sport as a whole.

The main problem with the new rule is that while it does make sure that fighters that use PEDs don’t get any extra cash in their pocket after a tainted performance, it won’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of those who are considering the use of those drugs in the first place.

On any given UFC card, there are roughly 10 to 13 bouts. While history tells us that fighters in bouts higher up on the card are more prone to getting a bit of extra cash due to bonus awards, the competition is completely open at the beginning of every event, and the odds that a fighter is going to secure an end-of-the-night award aren’t very good heading into the event.

Maybe the UFC’s new bonus rule will convince a fighter or two that starts looking at PEDs to change their mind, but it’s far more likely that fighters will be willing to take the risk and bank on the show and win money that they’re guaranteed to earn after the event. Until the promotion starts giving fighters a real risk to outweigh the rewards (completely withholding pay, a possible loss of a roster spot, etc.) the UFC isn’t going to make very much progress in its fight against PEDs.

This new rule shows that the promotion’s heart is in the right place, but the UFC is going to need to take a much stronger stance against banned substances if it wants to eliminate the problem completely.

Photo: Chris Leben (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.

  • Robby C.

    This is great news, first I heard of it. Nice article.