This life is full of rules, whether or not you agree with them.  For instance, if you drive 70 miles per hour on a road that is zoned at 65, you run the risk of getting a speeding ticket.  Although many feel that getting a ticket for driving just five miles per hour faster than the limit is silly, people have been caught and punished as a result.

There are many rules in sports too. Mixed martial arts has its own set of unified rules.  Some of them are simple to understand, such as no grabbing of the fence, while others have different interpretations, such as no hitting the back of the head of an opponent (It sounds simple, but there is gray area based on the exact definition of the back of the head).

Human error will always be a part of sports, and despite having replay capabilities in some sports, human error will always remain.  One of the most famous goals in the history of the World Cup was scored on human error, when in 1986, Argentina’s Diego Maradona scored a goal after a hand ball that was not seen by the referee.  Last week, Major League Baseball umpires were incorrect on multiple occasions, once when they incorrectly ruled what should have been a home run for the Orioles as a double despite having reviewed the replay.

But what is simple is that lightweight Pat Healy broke a rule when he tested positive for marijuana during his UFC 159 post-fight drug test.  Healy is the most recent fighter to test positive for the substance, and as in all such cases, his victory has been overturned to a no-contest.  While fans, promoters and others involved in the sport can look at it and say that ultimately he still defeated Jim Miller, what can’t be recovered is the $130,000 in fight bonus money that was taken from him as a result of the positive drug test.

This is just the most recent case of a positive marijuana test, but it happens fairly regularly in the UFC.  Nick Diaz tested positive for the second time in his career after his loss against Carlos Condit at UFC 143, and the result was a year-long suspension.  Matt Riddle twice tested positive for marijuana, and it led to his release from the promotion.

The controversy behind this is that many people out there feel that marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug, and because it does not enhance performance, it shouldn’t be a banned substance.  Rather than argue this point, it just needs to be clarified that marijuana is on the banned substance list, plain and simple.  UFC site coordinator Bert Watson tells the fighters before every fight which substances are banned and should not be taken, whether it is a specific brand of ibuprofen or a drug of abuse.

Recently, the state of Colorado legalized marijuana to the point where now residents can legally purchase and carry up to an ounce.  If a fighter legally purchased and smoked it, they need to understand that commissions still test for it.  If a state legalized steroid usage, commissions would still test for it and fighters caught using it would still suffer the consequences.

Healy really has no legs to stand on, regardless of how you feel about marijuana being banned.  It’s similar to how a driver who is just a bit over the speed limit could get a speeding ticket.  If a fighter holds the cage or their opponent’s shorts, they have to understand that there is a possibility that they could lose a point as a result.  If a fighter uses a banned substance in any capacity, they have to understand that there is a possibility that their victory could be overturned and that they could be suspended as a result.

Unfortunately for Pat Healy, his decision to smoke marijuana leading up to his UFC debut resulted in the loss of what would have been $130,000.

Photo: Pat Healy (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.