Nick Diaz failed a drug test for that dangerous, performance enhancing substance known commonly as weed, and until fighting the verdict and having it reduced considerably, was looking at a five year suspension from the sport that is his main source of income.

Kimbo Slice failed a drug test for anabolic steroids (nandrolone), and will be back fighting in ninety days. He faced, at worst, a one year suspension and $5,000 fine, but was offered a settlement by the commission overseeing his test failure.

Anyone else see a problem here?

Only, it gets worse. It would be one thing for Kimbo Slice, who failed his drug test following a disastrous Bellator 149 bout against Dhafir “Dada 5000″ Harris in Houston, to be cleared to fight by a toothless Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation after just a 90 day suspension for his drug test failure. It’s another for Bellator, as a fight promotion invested in and caring about the sport, to not go the extra mile, and ensure that some sort of meaningful punishment is handed down. It’s especially problematic to see CEO Scott Coker using the commission’s ruling as an out, in an age where the UFC is leading the charge against performance enhancing drugs by partnering with the USADA for enhanced testing of its athletes.

No, Bellator is not the UFC. While Viacom, which owns the promotion, has deeper pockets than Zuffa, it has never really opened them to any meaningful extent when it comes to mixed martial arts. Bellator doesn’t have the assets in terms of fighters that the UFC does, and may be loathe to bench one of its biggest stars. Yet it absolutely should: after all, there’s doing what’s best for business in the short term, and doing what’s best for the sport in the long run. If you’re invested in, or investing in, the sport, you do the latter.

Commission guidelines are only an excuse. No doubt, somewhere in their contract, Bellator has a grounds to suspend a fighter for PED abuse, or simply for damaging the reputation of the promotion — although in going ahead and booking Slice in a rematch against James Thompson in London this July at Bellator 158, the promotion is really hurting its own reputation.

It’s Coker’s response to the situation that is especially troubling. Speaking to ESPN this week, as it pertains to Slice, he said:

He was put on a 90-day suspension outside of Texas, which will be ending some time in May. So he’ll be cleared and ready to fight by July. We go by what the athletic commission says. We don’t want to get into the rules and regulations and testing procedures because every state has its own regulations and punishments. So it’s a little tricky. If there was a national federation or national association with rules and regulations across the board, that every state abided by, that’d be one thing, but for us, every state is different.

So Bellator doesn’t want to get into rules and regulations, because they vary between states? That’s the problem in a nutshell, and an argument for why promotions should go the extra mile. The bottom line is, Bellator was likely not obligated to book Slice again so soon after a drug test failure. They chose to, because he’s a draw, and in the process, showed a lack of concern for fighter safety that is very troubling. While Dada 5000’s much publicized heart failure in the fight against Slice had very little to do with Slice himself, and more to do with his own conditioning, one can easily see a situation much different: where a fighter juiced to the gills on steroids goes out and permanently disables or kills someone in the cage. At which point, the finger pointing begins, and the “human cockfighting” argument comes roaring back.

Promotions, especially top promotions, have a duty to the sport to prevent that. Bellator has towed a fine line with its freakshow fights to date; now is the time to really draw a line in the sand. Sadly, Bellator missed the opportunity they had here. The London show could have sold just as well with someone like Rampage Jackson or Tito Ortiz on the card — Daley vs. Koscheck II will be half the draw anyway. There’s no reason to reward Slice for putting a black eye on Bellator’s last big tentpole show, yet that seems to be what is happening here. There’s no need to book him again so soon, and send the message that as a promotion, you don’t care about performance enhancing drugs within your rank and file.

Come July, fans will tune in, fists will fly, and hopefully no one gets seriously injured. For now, however, it seems Bellator is just sticking its head in the sand and hoping for the best.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

  • Jeremy

    Dude they ALL juice get the f*** over it!!