Carina Damm is a pioneer among female mixed martial artists, but not the kind that gives you the warm fuzzies inside when you look back at what she did to become one of the “firsts” of the sport. Why? Because she was the first female fighter to be busted for steroids in the United States. And now it appears that she’s back at it again.

Unfortunately, news regarding MMA fighters being busted for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) is something we’ve learned to accept. But it’s not often that we read those kind of headlines coming from the world of women’s MMA, as we did last week when it was reported that the Brazilian fighter had failed her second drug test.

Damm’s first failure stemmed from a 2008 fight in Los Angeles. Following the fight, she tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. And there was an epic amount of it in her system.

This more recent failure comes from a June 1 fight in Ohio. There’s no positive test result this time, but that’s because Damm submitted a fake urine sample. What she was trying to hide by doing so is unknown, but she was suspended by the Ohio Athletic Commission for six months and received a fine.

So where does Damm go from here? Apparently, back to Brazil to continue her career.

Only 14 days after losing a unanimous decision to Jessica Eye and stupidly trying to get away with submitting a fake urine sample to an athletic commission, Damm picked up a win against Jessica Suelen in Rio de Janeiro on June 15. And she has her next fight scheduled already for July 13 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

For fighters that have issues with the U.S. athletic commissions, fighting internationally in countries like Brazil can be a way to circumvent regulation and resume their career even after they were recently busted for cheating or are coming off a medical suspension. It might upset our self-righteous sensibilities as fans, but it’s not something that is going to stop fighters from moving forward, or stop promotions from using them.

Look at UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort, who is enjoying the best run of his career since the early days of the UFC. He has fought with a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) granted by the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission for his last two fights. To his credit, Belfort is trying to move forward with using testosterone in a seemingly honest way by keeping records of his testing, but his recent wins have come under tremendous scrutiny. Belfort’s last four fights for the UFC have been held outside of the United States, with three of them taking place in Brazil. The problem for a fighter like Belfort is that he’s been busted for steroids in the past, and being granted a TUE is harder to come by from most commissions.

Unless you’re considered by a majority of the MMA world as a MMA legend (sorry Fight Master’s Joe Warren) and are a huge draw like Belfort, most U.S. promotions will not be going out of their way to make sure a fighter’s history with PEDs is being catered to.

Then again, the UFC also welcomed back light heavyweight Thiago Silva after he tried to pass off horse urine as his own and also had a failed drug test for steroids in his background. In fact, Silva’s own history with drug tests is oddly similar to Damm’s. But trying to convince others that something that is not their pee is their pee is about as close as Damm will get to experiencing similar heights to her career as those that Silva has seen in his. It’s doubtful that her recent run in MMA is anything that will propel her forward in the United States beyond the regional shows she’s been accustomed to for most of her career. Unlike Silva, Damm hasn’t gone on a tear that warrants attention from the major promotions.

The majority of Damm’s 27 fights have been contested in Brazil and for small promotions. Damm had a great run of 10 wins from 2007 to early 2010, with one being over top strawweight fighter Jessica Aguilar, but that’s where her success in MMA has stalled. Since August of 2010, Damm has gone 3-6 in MMA competition, falling to established competitors such as Cat Zingano, Tara LaRosa and, recently, Jessica Eye. She suffered all six of those losses on American soil.

Also unlike Silva, Damm didn’t ink a contract with one of the major promotions prior to her drug-testing scandals. Now, at 34 and with her second drug test failure, it’s hard to imagine the possibility of Damm moving upwards to join Invicta or the UFC. She will likely be seen as a liability and is a fighter with a losing record against notable competition. She doesn’t have an impressive winning streak to earn her entry to any of those promotions, and her popularity isn’t at a level where the UFC would consider giving her a pass, as many accuse the promotion of doing with Belfort and Silva.

However, that’s not going to stop Damm from competing, as she already has in Brazil. It’s also worthy to note that her looks and propensity to not let a fight go to the judges will continue to bolster her career. Damm is known as the Brazilian “Barbie” of women’s MMA. Just look her up online and you’ll see plenty of images that support the moniker. That’s a marketability that won’t be easily discarded by smaller promotions in need of talent.

With her experience and international marketability, Damm, even with her obvious attempt at cheating recently, will continue to receive plenty of offers to compete. Just not in America anytime soon.

Photo: Carina Damm (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.