The landscape of the UFC’s anti-doping program is set to undergo a substantial transformation,
as the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) relinquishes its leadership, largely because their existing contract is set to expire at the end of 2023. The unexpected nature of this development took many by surprise when Travis Tygart, the CEO of USADA, delivered an astonishing announcement on a Wednesday.
It was revealed that the renowned UFC superstar, Conor McGregor, has taken a substantial step by rejoining the drug testing pool after an extended hiatus from the program.
Tygart claimed that negotiations were ongoing between USADA and UFC for an extended agreement. However, the MMA promotion chose to terminate the partnership set to begin in 2024.
Tygart stated, “We can confirm that Conor McGregor re-entered the USADA testing pool on Sunday, October 8, 2023.”
He further emphasized their anticipation that the UFC will uphold the requirement for McGregor to abstain from competition until he has successfully completed a minimum of six months of rigorous drug testing and maintains his presence in the testing pool throughout that entire period.
USADA rules permit the inclusion of individuals in the testing pool before they compete and based on their announcements regarding the results of the tests.
Unfortunately, the present circumstances cast a shadow of uncertainty over whether the UFC will abide by the requirement of at least six months or possibly even longer. This vagueness arises from the impending conclusion of USADA’s participation in the UFC’s anti-doping program on January 1, 2024.
At the moment of composing this piece, the UFC has refrained from providing a response to this unfolding situation.
Tygart explained that tensions between USADA and UFC were primarily due to McGregor’s situation. McGregor had been suspended from the anti-doping program following a broken leg incident in his previous fight against Dustin Poirier in 2021.
After this, McGregor had intentions to rejoin the UFC’s anti-doping program. Yet, in accordance with the regulations set by USADA, a compulsory six-month testing period loomed as a prerequisite for granting him the privilege to engage in any competitive endeavors, unless exceptions were to be contemplated.
Tygart said, “A UFC commentator recently announced that USADA should not oversee the UFC program, as we stand by the six-month rule for McGregor and do not allow the use of performance-enhancing substances without the use of approved medical conditions, treatments, or disallowed peptides or testosterone, just for coming back to the Octagon.”
“The price of clean athletes is more important for the long term health and safety of athletes than short-term gains for cheaters. USADA remains proud of the extensive efforts put forth during the last eight years in enhancing the integrity of the UFC.
We are committed to delivering our distinctive services to UFC athletes for the duration of our existing contract, concluding on December 31, 2023. As is our consistent commitment, we will persist in championing the rights and voices of untainted athletes across all sports.
UFC first partnered with USADA for anti-doping oversight in 2015. Throughout the span of their eight-year alliance, USADA conducted in excess of 27,000 tests on the UFC’s roster, upholding the principles of equity and parity within the sport.
New Zealand-born Israel Adesanya, who was born in Nigeria, will face American title challenger Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 293 on Sunday. This fight has garnered support from fans for Adesanya’s efforts to secure a victory.
The fight is expected to take place at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, across the Tasman Sea from Adesanya’s base. Strickland, who holds the middleweight championship, will seize the opportunity to exhibit his performance in the match, whether that involves successfully submitting his adversary or securing a tap-out.
In a submission, the opponent must either accept defeat due to pain or injury or verbally acknowledge the match. Adesanya, with 26 professional mixed martial arts contests, boasts 16 knockout victories and eight decision wins (with two losses), but no submissions.i
“What do I want in my career? Absolutely, a submission,” Adesanya conveyed to the media this week. “It could happen in this fight. I know he’s going to wrestle. Choosing not to do so would be an imprudent course of action.
He’s doing all of this, ‘Dance, man, dance.’
This marks the initial instance in which the UFC has orchestrated a bout in Australia’s most extensive city since 2017, and 2023 signifies the second UFC event in the country this year. In February, in Perth, Western Australia, Islam Makhachev faced a constant challenge from Alexander Volkanovski to maintain his dominance in the lightweight division.
In the co-main event, which is prime time for North America’s lucrative pay-per-view TV market on Saturday night, 32-year-old Strickland, with a record of 27-5, claims to be happy boxing with Adesanya, although he believes his best chance is wrestling the champion.
Adesanya and Strickland aren’t particularly fond of each other, as they have exchanged verbal jabs in the past. In 2022 at UFC 276 in Paradise, Nevada, they were within shouting distance of each other, sparking a healthy rivalry.