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Vitor Belfort's latest win fuels testosterone debate, which may be a good thing

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SmileR

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Right off we might as well talk about it.

Why not? We're thinking about it, whether we want to admit it or not. How could we not be, when it's right there staring us in the face?

Vitor Belfort pulls off an amazing spinning heel kick against Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8, then declares that he's "stronger than ever," and it's like he's begging us to talk about it. On the broadcast we hear references to his impressive career turnaround, and it feels like they're hinting at the things they can't or don't dare say.

Or maybe they aren't. At least not intentionally. Maybe it's a Freudian slip, or no slip at all. Maybe it's just that when you get an elephant this big in a room this small – and when that elephant keeps stomping on the heads of all who come near it – anything you say feels like it's either directed right at the damn thing or else conspicuously avoiding mention of it.

That's where we are with Belfort and his testosterone usage. Tucked away in Brazil, where the commission is brand new and therapeutic-use exemptions for former steroid cheats are apparently no problem, he faces a problem he doesn't seem to want to acknowledge. The more fights he wins and the more highlight-reel finishes he stacks up, the more he stokes a fire that he'd rather we just ignore.

The thing is, we probably would ignore it if we could. We'd rather watch and enjoy and be awed by these finishes that look like something out of a video game. But knowing what we know, it's impossible to come away from Belfort's recent performances without wondering how much of what we just saw came from him and how much came from a syringe.

And honestly, that's what really sucks about testosterone use in MMA – for the fans, anyway. The fighters, sure, they have to worry about the concussions and the competitive imbalance and all the rest of it. Those of us on the couch get stuck with the nagging doubt and bitter aftertaste. Guys like Belfort are making this sport hard for a thinking fan to relax and enjoy.

We see him pull off some fantastic move and we can't appreciate it for what it is. We just can't. Unless we want to become the willing marks in this little PED carnival, we have to ask whether he could have done that without a steady injection of steroids (and for the last time, while the testosterone that occurs naturally in your body is a hormone, the synthesized testosterone that MMA fighters are injecting is a steroid; let's stop dancing around it and call it what it is).

But testosterone doesn't kick people in the head, right? You need to skill to do that. And that's true. You also need skill to hit a baseball over a fence, but I think we've learned that it doesn't hurt to get an infusion of chemically-enhanced power and explosiveness to give that existing skill a little extra push. It also doesn't hurt to get that push all through training camp.

That's the thing about performance-enhancing drugs. They take what you already have and improve it with the help of some stuff you don't. That's why athletes use them. You think Belfort would be putting up with all the scrutiny from the media and the criticism from fans if this stuff didn't work?

It's worth noting how Belfort is handling that scrutiny, by the way. With the UFC's help, he's managed to avoid the prying eyes of the various U.S. state athletic commissions, many of which aren't exactly all that strict to begin with. But when John Morgan of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) asked him about his testosterone use after his win over Rockhold, Belfort's response was to try to silence him as quickly as possible.

"Can somebody beat him up for me, please?" Belfort said of Morgan at the post-fight news conference. "Can somebody beat him up?"

Right, because nothing says "I'm using a totally legitimate medical treatment" quite like threatening those who ask questions about it. It's not just immediately after the fight that Belfort avoids these questions, either. Let's not forget, back before the UFC confirmed that he was using testosterone, Belfort refused to admit it, even when asked point blank about it by ESPN. It was only after the UFC outed him that he voiced his support for full public disclosure for all testosterone users. If the UFC hadn't put his business in the streets, he'd probably still be doing it in secret.

The sad part is, Belfort doesn't seem to realize how much the controversy is hurting him. He seems genuinely oblivious to the fact that, in the minds of many fans, there's an asterisk next to all these wins. Maybe he didn't need the testosterone to beat Rockhold. Maybe he could have pulled off that kick without it. But the thing is, we'll never know. Neither will he. He can tell us that it's all him, that the testosterone has nothing to do with his career resurgence. But if that's true then why doesn't he get off the juice? If it's not responsible for his success, then it shouldn't matter if he stops using it. And if he won't stop using it, then he can't be surprised when we won't quit talking about it.

Maybe that's the silver lining here, is the enduring force of the conversation. The more fights Belfort wins while on testosterone – and the more violent, spectacular finishes he reels off in the process – the more he fuels the debate. Looking at Twitter on Saturday night, the first response to his knockout of Rockhold was a kind of stunned amazement. The second response was skepticism and suspicion. By Sunday morning, it was the suspicion that lingered.

It'll keep lingering, too. Just ask all those power hitters from baseball's steroid era. Performance-enhancers like testosterone might be fast-acting, but the stain they leave behind is a stubborn one. The way Belfort's headed, he'll still be staring at it long after his fighting days are done.

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Post #1   5/19/13 8:40:35PM   

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I enjoy watching TRT Vitor. I'll continue to enjoy his fights till he gets popped.

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Post #2   5/19/13 9:16:39PM   

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Posted by SpiderSilva

I enjoy watching TRT Vitor. I'll continue to enjoy his fights till he gets popped.



Agreed.

Post #3   5/19/13 10:47:31PM   

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In his defense and just for the sake of argument, what they are claiming is that despite the past use (the amount is only known by Vitor and Co.) he is currently at a physical disadvantage because his testosterone levels are at a lower than normal/natural level. Thus making it not a PED, but a necessary medical treatment in order to compete with the opposition.
The problem with the argument is the belief that if there had been no steriod abuse to begin with there would no reason for said medical treatment.
As of now it is going to stay a topic of controversy and until real abusers of steroids are eradicated.

Post #4   5/19/13 10:49:14PM   

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Darth Silva didn't care about Vitor's TRT...he punted Vitor's head into orbit.

Post #5   5/20/13 12:04:35AM   

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Posted by Sir_Karl

Darth Silva didn't care about Vitor's TRT...he punted Vitor's head into orbit.



That fight took place in Vegas where I believe Vitor doesn't have a TRT exemption.

If they were to fight in Brazil I think that would be a far better fight.

Post #6   5/20/13 1:19:05AM   

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Posted by FlashyG

That fight took place in Vegas where I believe Vitor doesn't have a TRT exemption.

If they were to fight in Brazil I think that would be a far better fight.



He has his TUE approved for TRT with the NSAC per the UFC. "the promotion did acknowledge that Belfort has been medically approved for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in Nevada after being diagnosed with hypogonadism."

LINK

Not sure how long it's been approved for(if it was pre or post Silva fight) but he's good to go with TRT in Vegas now.

Last edited 5/20/13 5:56AM server time by Kpro
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Post #7   5/20/13 5:55:08AM   

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Posted by Kpro


Posted by FlashyG

That fight took place in Vegas where I believe Vitor doesn't have a TRT exemption.

If they were to fight in Brazil I think that would be a far better fight.



He has his TUE approved for TRT with the NSAC per the UFC. "the promotion did acknowledge that Belfort has been medically approved for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in Nevada after being diagnosed with hypogonadism."

LINK

Not sure how long it's been approved for(if it was pre or post Silva fight) but he's good to go with TRT in Vegas now.



That article is from February. Here is an article from March with direct quote from Keith Kizer saying pretty much the complete opposite.

link

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Post #8   5/20/13 7:35:06AM   

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Did Vitor ever say "stronger than ever"? I heard him twice say, and this may not be an exact quote, "as strong as I've ever been". Not a huge difference, but it does have a slightly different meaning. Also, I certainly didn't hear/read all his interviews and such so I'm sure he could have said the quoted. Or I could have just misheard him.

I do think this is a major issue and will get much worse before it gets better. At least some SACs are monitoring the levels more than just right before fight time. There's still a long way to go and I'm certainly not smart enough to offer up the solution.

Post #9   5/20/13 9:03:24AM   

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Posted by xdanish020


Posted by SpiderSilva

I enjoy watching TRT Vitor. I'll continue to enjoy his fights till he gets popped.



Agreed.



Me too, he's one of the first people I'd show someone to get them interested in MMA. He's KO'ing fools for fun right now and theres no doubt in my mind he's the number 1 contender.

But he guy is on TRT, no skating around it. He refuses to address the issue when confronted about it in press conferences, he's a dick to people who ask him anything related to it and he career has resurged once he started using it. All facts.

He's also been popped for steroids in the past which makes his Dr's note look a little suspicious and even if he does really need it now, its his fault he needs it because he took steroids when he was in his 20's.

Again forgetting all that, the guy now, basically has a Dr's note to use something that is obviously beneficial in his training camp and he's fighting people who don't.
Can anyone stand up and honestly say, you know what, he'd of beat Bisping, Rockhold and everyone else even if he wasn't on it? There'd be a hell of a lot more doubt and those guys have every reason to be pissed that he won't give them rematches where he can't get licensed to use it.

I don't buy the excuse "Oh yeah but TRT had nothing to do with him landing that kick" because its bullshit. TRT had everything to do with him landing it! It gives him the strength and confidence to throw that kick in a main event fight. Just like it gave him the same in the gym when he was learning it.

TRT helps improve strength, speed and endurance and along with those comes confidence. TRT, in my eyes, is cheating and Belfort knows it is to. Thats why he won't address it, thats why he wants everyone on it outed just like he was and thats why athletic commissions have openly stated he's"unlikely to be granted a licence" in their states.

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Post #10   5/20/13 10:16:41AM   

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TRT Vitor vs TRT Hendo 2...book it.

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Post #11   5/20/13 10:27:24AM   

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Posted by Playground_Samurai


Posted by Kpro


Posted by FlashyG

That fight took place in Vegas where I believe Vitor doesn't have a TRT exemption.

If they were to fight in Brazil I think that would be a far better fight.



He has his TUE approved for TRT with the NSAC per the UFC. "the promotion did acknowledge that Belfort has been medically approved for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in Nevada after being diagnosed with hypogonadism."

LINK

Not sure how long it's been approved for(if it was pre or post Silva fight) but he's good to go with TRT in Vegas now.



That article is from February. Here is an article from March with direct quote from Keith Kizer saying pretty much the complete opposite.

link



lol, ahhh the great NSAC.

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Post #12   5/20/13 10:58:19AM   

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TRT is a legal as HGH was when Sosa and Big Mac where slugging all those homeruns. The last 2 knockouts came from kicks which I believe to be technique nothing more. Vitor has reinvented himself and until they put a banned on TRT, you can't punish him for it.

Post #13   5/20/13 12:18:43PM   

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Posted by TheCatFather

TRT is a legal as HGH was when Sosa and Big Mac where slugging all those homeruns. The last 2 knockouts came from kicks which I believe to be technique nothing more. Vitor has reinvented himself and until they put a banned on TRT, you can't punish him for it.



It is legal and the UFC is letting him do it. as long as he is finishing people in spectacular fashion and it is legal, I'm over the issue

Post #14   5/20/13 7:26:45PM   

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I don't think there's any legitimate use of TRT in the sport.

Men lose testosterone as they get older. It happens naturally. Taking drugs to "correct" for it will always be illegitimate and an unfair advantage in my mind.

Some people naturally have a harder time building muscle mass, should they be allowed to take steroids to even the playing field?

I don't see how its any different.

Post #15   5/21/13 10:52:59AM