Benson Henderson: Guilt by association because of drug users in the UFC is a bad look
The wave of positive drug tests that have rocked the MMA world in the past few weeks don’t just affect the fighters who will face suspensions and fines for using performance enhancing drugs (PED), but it also trickles down to other fighters in the UFC who are forced to defend allegations that somehow all competitors are dirty.
In the wake of positive tests from former pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva as well as top five ranked welterweight Hector Lombard, the UFC is stuck in the middle of a sticky situation where some of the top fighters in the sport are using illegal drugs before stepping into the Octagon.
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson has stated on numerous occasions that he’s a clean fighter and has never touched any kind of performance enhancing drug, but with so many others testing positive lately it lands him in the crosshairs with questions about whether he’s actually doing something wrong or not.
"Guilty by association. It’s not a good look for the UFC fighters to consistently pop up positive, positive, positive, for all these PED’s. It’s a bad look for the sport. It’s a bad look for us fighters. I have to defend myself for doing drugs?" Henderson said when speaking to FOX Sports in Colorado on Thursday. "I’m not the last guy, but I shouldn’t have to defend myself from doing drugs.
Guilty by association. It’s not a good look for the UFC fighters to consistently pop up positive, positive, positive, for all these PED’s. It’s a bad look for the sport. It’s a bad look for us fighters
— Benson Henderson
"We all know I don’t, I know I don’t, but the fact that I have to defend myself because of guilt by association, I don’t think that’s the way it should be."
Henderson has been an outspoken advocate against drug use in MMA, but he also doesn’t want to completely bury the fighters who have tested positive while trying to find an edge in the sport.
Almost every fighter on the roster looked up to Silva at one point or another considering he’s ranked as the greatest champion in UFC history and routinely regarded as the best fighter of all time. The fact that he tested positive for two different steroids following his fight with Nick Diaz at UFC 183 speaks volumes, but Henderson doesn’t want to condemn the former champion for a lifetime of hard work marred by one test result either.
"Those PED’s, I can understand from a competitor’s aspect, all the true competitors know what it’s like to do anything — ‘I’m going to run through that wall if it gives me that much more of an edge over my competitors’ — but then there’s lines. There’s lines you cannot cross. You cannot cross this line. It’s a touchy, iffy, weird subject," Henderson said.
"I don’t endorse, I don’t say it’s okay to do PED’s, but if you do, it makes you kind of not super strong and maybe you’re doing it for whatever various reasons, but it is what it is."
One subject that certainly seemed to get under Henderson’s skin is the fact that Silva returned a positive result for a test conducted more than 20 days out from his fight with Diaz yet the bout was allowed to continue because the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC didn’t find out about it until days after the show was already finished.
Whether there’s more to that story or not remains a subject for conspiracy theorists, but Henderson is definitely skeptical about the whole ordeal.
"The UFC, if you get the result before the fight, come on, seriously! It is what it is," Henderson said.
As far as a solution for all the drug problems that are plaguing the sport currently, Henderson has a very simple answer to counter the fighters who feel the need to cheat to get a competitive edge over an opponent.
"What you need to do is get your PEW and PEC — a performance enhancing wife and a performance enhancing coach," Henderson said with a smile. "I’ve got both of those so I’m good."