UFC middleweight Michael Bisping had dealt with more than his fair share of conversation about performance-enhancing drug use in MMA despite the fact that he’s been clean his entire career.
The outspoken British fighter has been one of the more vocal names on the roster to speak out against drug use in the UFC including testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which was banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission as well as the UFC almost exactly one year ago.
During his UFC career, Bisping has faced five different fighters who have either used TRT, been busted for using some performance-enhancing drug or admitted drug used prior to a fight. Needless to say, Bisping was very much in favor of the UFC’s new policy regarding drug testing where all athletes on the roster will receive random, year round testing starting in July.
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"I mean to be honest what I read and what I saw of the press conference, I take away nothing but positives," Bisping told FOX Sports. "It’s something I’ve wanted to see done for a long time — more stringent testing, out-of-competition testing, much more random testing. So these are positive steps."
Bisping has never been delusional enough to think that fighters wouldn’t cheat if given the opportunity to get away with it, but he sees these new rules as one step closer to cleaning up the sport.
Under the new rules, UFC fighters competing in main events or title fights will be subjected to random, enhanced drug testing in the weeks leading up to their bouts and now every fighter will be tested on the night of the fight regardless of where they compete at on the card.
If people are of a low moral standard we can’t do anything about that, but I don’t want them to tarnish the sport that I love and I’ve worked so hard at.
— Michael Bisping
In previous years, fighters often engaged in a back and forth battle of accusations, but now Bisping says proof will be on the side of the clean fighters while the dirty ones will soon face the brunt of the punishment handed down from state commissions as well as the UFC.
"There’s always going to be those individuals who try to cheat the system," Bisping said. "There still will be those individuals now unfortunately. The UFC is now actively hunting them out. The commission is hunting them out. If people are of a low moral standard we can’t do anything about that, but I don’t want them to tarnish the sport that I love and I’ve worked so hard at."
Part of the new regulation the UFC is attempting to enact will enforce much stronger penalties for those fighters who do get caught with performance enhancing drugs in their system. According to UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertittta, the promotion would support standardized bans of anywhere from two to four years for a first time offender.
One of the biggest issues many critics have had in the past about drug testing were the suspensions sometimes only being for nine months or a year, which often times only costs an athlete a lone appearance inside the cage.
"Of course they talked about increased punishment. I think of course it has to be a deterrent," Bisping said. "For some people, nine months off, some fighters only fight one time in nine months anyways. Four-year (suspensions), I don’t think that will get passed, but two years, that’s a completely different matter. It certainly should be a deterrent.
"The UFC will catch a lot more people, but hopefully the number (of users) will be drastically reduced."
As happy as Bisping is about the new rules and regulations, there’s still some part of him that wish this had happened sooner just like the ban on TRT. Considering how many fighters he’s faced with help from an unnatural assistant, it’s understandable why Bisping would be so passionate about the subject.
"I would have liked to have seen it done sooner," Bisping said. "But late is better than never."