‘SMMA’: Would A Seperate MMA League Be The Answer To TRT Issues?

Vitor Belfort made his first professional appearance in October on 1996. Randy Couture did the same, in May of 1997. The former is 36 years old and still fighting, the latter 49 and retired. Both suffered losses as the result of (spectacular and definitive) front snap-kicks at the hands of The Sport’s finest. Both responded differently to the outcome(s) of those bouts. Both would be considered “elder-statesmen” of The Sport. Both have fan bases that could, would and do still follow and love them.

Couture, post his snap-kick loss, opted to hang it up, Belfort opted to continue on and augment his training with a “sanctioned” TRT regiment.

Note: For the purposes of this post it will be assumed that Vitor Belfort was not on TRT, prior to 2011 and there are no negative tests or findings, to prove otherwise; rightly or wrongly. PED use prior to 2011 will not be considered. It’s simply too large a can of worms and VB is not the only infracter.  

Obviously, the quick argument and difference between the two would be age. Couture is 13 years the senior of Belfort.

However and  for all-and-any that know,  informing “The Natural” that he was 13 years older than his opponent whether it be a street -fight, bar-room brawl or (Octagon) sparring match, wouldn’t mean much in the way of a deterrent, to “Captain America”. He simply wouldn’t care. Don’t knock on that door if you don’t want the door answered, would be my advice to most, if not all, regardless of the fact that The Man is (just) shy of his 50th birthday. In short, if you “ain’t” ready for “it”, don’t bother…even if he is 50.

In Belfort’s case, the question of his willingness to fight is rendered a moot by the simple fact that he’s still fighting and (that he’s) fighting the best of not his generation, but (rather) the generation that has come after him. TRT equalizers or not, it’s an impressive feat. He is 36 after all and has been fighting professionally since 1996, as hard as that may be to believe.

With that said, where Couture packed it in and regardless of the 13 year age difference, Vitor continued on via the aid of TRT.

Taking that into consideration and NSAC sanctions aside, many have derided, ridiculed and even called into question / ill repute, Belfort’s late-of-age success @185 and believe it to be (rightly or wrongly)nothing more than the result of (his sanctioned) TRT USAge. Belfort has denied these allegations, stating that his TRT therapy is nothing more than a methodology, which allows him to continue to compete against other, much younger, fighters. In a nutshell, his contention is that it levels the playing field, not distorts it. Which is to say, that his TR therapy does nothing more than bring this “T” levels equal to that of his (younger) opponents.  

Fair enough if the NSAC says so.  

However, what about those that see TRT use as outright cheating? First amongst which would be Dana White.

For a moment, let us accept at face-value that they have a point and that it is cheating and more specifically, that it’s cheating in an effort to beat “father-time”, which as we all know, cannot be KO’d, TKO’d, submitted or taken to a judge’s decision. When father-time says it’s over, it’s over and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

If this is the case and in an effort to assuage those that consider (sanctioned) TRT cheating, while @ the same time, not offending a fighter’s fans, those that tolerate or excuse TRT simply because they (selfishly) wish to see their heroe(s) continue on past their “sell-by-date”, might the solution to the problem (simply) be Seniors MMA and a “cut-off” date, set either by age or TRT USAge / necessity?

To put it in practical terms, the question for MMA fans would become this….in an effort to rid the sport of TRT, would you support (a) Seniors MMA promotion, given that there were no TRT sanctions and that it was only open to fighters of a (to be) “determined” age or TRT(USAge) requirement?

Under this formula, for example, fans would have the pleasure of watching their favorite fighters continue (on) for years. The fighters, in exchange, would have the comfort of knowing that they are not expected to compete with the best-of-the-best, of a generation half their age.

Exampling…Anderson Silva is 38 years old and as great and healthy as he is and for the complete lack of (true) punishment he’s taken in The Octagon, he is, none-the-less, 38 years old. There is a point to which even a Wizard the likes of Anderson Silva, succumbs to the follies of times. With that said, there are a field of fans (at least one would assume, me being one) who would gladly continue to follow his exploits against fellow greats, such as Vitor Belfort, should such a league / round-robin present itself. I, for one, would be more than happy to see Sonnen get another kick @ the can, under an SMMA umbrella. Something that would never happen under the current structure and never happen, given the “current” longe

So, the question becomes, in an effort to rid the sport of TRT, most of which will be sanctioned for older, “marquis” fighters that we’ve all followed, rooted for or against and loved for years…would you support or advocate for, Seniors MMA? All of which would be under a singular understanding, that if you need TRT, then you need to be moving onto SMMA. De facto, there is no more acceptable waiver which may be sought, within The UFC’s MMA promotion. Further to that, there would be no TRT exemptions for the SMMA, promotion.

Personally, I’d support it; enthusiastically.

To sum up and keep it within perspective, Fedor Emelianenko, for example, is “only” 34 years old. He is considered by many to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time. However, as a result of time, circumstance and management, MMA fans never got to see many of the great fights that they would like to have seen, regarding The Last Emperor. Under an SMMA umbrella, all of those fights could be possible. Postulating…anyone up for Fedor vs. Henderson 2? Dan is (nearly) 43, after all. Personally, I’d love to see it. However, under the current structure and given their respective career longevity’s, it’ll never happen, unless it happens uner an SMMA banner.

A further tempting of series of question to MMA fans – would you like to see Fedor vs.…Randy or Anderson? Is there anyone who might care to see Hughes / Serra 2 or Penn / Hughes 3? In a few years’ time, might you be interested in seeing GSP vs. “X”, Machida vs. “Y” or anyone of a number of fighters that you’ve followed and loved over the years, continue on and all at relative levels? My affirmed answer is a resounding – Yes. How great would it be to see Mark Hominick back in The Octagon, for example?

To the point, if the fighters are willing, able and have the heart to continue on, then my prediction is /would be that the fans would / will have the interest in continuing on (watching their favorite fighters), as well.

It would be my assertion, for example and in furtherance of the argument, that Silva / Belfort 2 would garner as much interest in a Seniors circuit, as it would or might, in the “main” circuit.

Chael Sonnen, is another example of a marketable fighter who is not long for pasture, who could continue to provide quality fights and entertainment value to the fans, should he be provided the platform. BJ Penn and Nick Diaz, who often speak of retirement, might also be fighters / candidates who might be interested in such a format.

Regardless of whether or not you see the merit of the argument, what cannot be diminished is that there are a lot of great fighters who have already gone to pasture or are not long for pasture, who still have a great deal to offer…under the right circumstance(s). To be even more blunt and from a business perspective, there is (literally) hundreds of millions of dollars of (still valuable) fighter marketability out there, from Couture to Penn, which can / could be marketed to an adoring and ravenous fan base, all of whom know and love these fighters. It would be a shame to let it all go, simply because a fighter cannot perform at the same level(s) that the used to, when they were 25. It actually flies in the face of everything that any of us have ever been taught (in DoJos’), regarding respect for your elders and reverence for (the) knowledge which is garnered over decades of study and practice.

Regarding SMMA, I know that I for one would tune in to the events, buy the PPVs’ and wouldn’t care about rankings (particularly if it was a (Bellator style) round-robin. I’d simply be happy to see my (all-time) favorite fighters continuing to fight. Ortiz vs. Couture 2 for the SMMA 205 belt, for example, would be a fight I’d sit down and watch, as most MMA fans would, particularly if it was a “free” event. It’s the type of programming I’m sure a network like FOX would love. Cards full of nothing but marquis fighters. They could sell that all day long.

The biggest regret about this whole equation is that Chuck Liddell can’t be factored into it. That sucks. Fans would be banging @ the door to buy tickets to Liddell vs. “anybody”.  Sadly, we all know it can’t happen. However and with that said, that does not mean we can’t hold on to the other fighters we love while and if they’re willing and still have the passion of The Fight and The Crowd, then why not?

Dana always says the he wants to give The Fans the fights that they want to see….okay, I want to see SMMA and all the great fighters I’ve mentioned and all those that I have not. I want to see my heroes continue on past the age of 35 or 40. They have far too much to offer, to just let it all go.

Great fighters shouldn’t just fade away; they should be allowed to move onto SMMA.

God I love this sport.

 



19 Comments

  1. Profile photo of N.C.

    N.C.

    May 11, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I don't get why Vitor keeps saying NEVER cheated. He was popped for roids in the early UFC days. So he has cheated. There are guys like Hendo in his 40's where TRT could be used because as his age. He has a fraction of what he had in his teens.

    Vitor on the other hand has been using it and is still kinda young. TRT is often used by younger guys who had juiced earlier in life and ruined their testosterone production. Because they don't produce Test properly anymore, they need to take TRT to get their testosterone back to normal.

    If Vitor never juiced when he was younger. He would never need TRT now.

    I do agree with the "masters" or sr's division. I mean they have it in golf and they got a old timers games in hockey. It would be interesting to see some fights like Tito and Chuck again. They would just need to mod the rounds as well. 2 minute breaks and maybe 4 minute rounds? The older you get, the harder it is to keep your cardio at the level of the younger guys.

    • Profile photo of Brian Cox

      Brian Cox

      May 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      @ NC

      However it were to be configured, it's eminently doable. People really won't care about how long the rounds or breaks are…or whether it's a round-robin or belt style championship, such as The UFC is now. The only thing they'd care about wold be seeing these, still healthy and relatively young fighters (35 to 40+ isn't what it used to be), fight.

      Maybe it's foolish to hope for, but what is life without dreams?

      • Profile photo of N.C.

        N.C.

        May 11, 2013 at 11:44 pm

        I totally agree. They could even do a special annual PPV for these retired guys.

        its obvious now that UFC is becoming more business then sport. No other sport can i think of, can a person trash talk into a championship game. Like imagine if that did that in the NFL? Dana will say only the best fighters fight in the UFC. Maybe so, however the best fighters don't always get the best fights.

        They can mod the rules, but it would be entertaining seeing the old masters step in the octagon one more time.

        So if we get the bad, we should get the good too. Chuck may not do well against a young Jon Jones or any of the top 10's now. But I sure as hell would want to see Chuck vs Tito again. We want to see good matches and good fights. I rather see something like that then another anderson miss match against the next best fighter.

  2. Profile photo of kungfurule

    kungfurule

    May 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Sometimes low test can be the result of continued or severe head trauma (for example being punched in the head a lot) not always a roids issue.

    As far as a SMMA i understand that it is hard to let go of your favourite fighters but as they age the results of years of punishment will begin to show, I just don't think it is ethical to allow fighters to fight past a certain point even if they 'want' to. I think an SMMA would have too many legal and medical hurdles to ever happen. What would be better would for the fighters to be paid more in line with other high level sports so they don't have to risk their 'brain' unnecessarily. I appreciate the enthusiasm but a senior league will never happen I don't think.

    • Profile photo of falcon4917

      falcon4917

      May 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      I agree with what I think is everything you just said. My answer to the first sentence is if they had that much damage from head shots then they need to quit not try and "level" the playing field. If they need trt because of head trauma then MMA is no longer for them, wether it's a car accident or punch drunk. If we cave on this eventually down the line there will be cyborgs fighting regular guys because they had certain issues that could only be overcome by robo prosthetics.

      • Profile photo of Brian Cox

        Brian Cox

        May 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm

        @ Falcon

        That's part of my point and why I raised the issue of a senior's promotion. If you need TRT, then maybe you should be moving on.

        If the option was a seniors circuit and no TRT exemptions, then maybe that could be a reasonable option / solution for guys like Belfort on the one hand who use TRT and guys like Couture, Hughes, Serra and Ortiz on the other hand, who weren't on TRT (not that I know of, at any rate) and quit, because ("un-medicated") they simply couldn't compete any longer with the younger fighters.

        Put it all in a round-robin and if the fighters are willing to go, then I'd be willing to watch.

        • Profile photo of falcon4917

          falcon4917

          May 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm

          Same here. I agree. Some will look at another league as an old folks home but others would welcome fair opportunity for older fighters to keep makin money and fighting for the fans. I am all on board for that.

    • Profile photo of Brian Cox

      Brian Cox

      May 11, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      @ Kunfu

      My guess it won't happen, either. However, if people started talking about it, raising the issue with Dana, who knows, maybe it might, too.

      As to legal or medical issues, I'm not sure what they would be, here. Legally I see no issue(s) and medically, if you're not cleared, you're not cleared. It's that simple. It's part of the reason I mentioned Chuck Liddell, specifically. If there's one fighter out there that people would love to see again, it would be Chuck. However, it can't happen. At least I don't believe so.

      In terms of them getting older…if they're fighting guys who are (relatively) the same age and their all healthy, cleared and willing, I really don't see what the issue could be.

      Yes, it is hard to let go and I'm fine with letting them go, if that's the case. However, if they're healthy, in shape and want to fight, why let them go? For example, the only reason a guy like Randy Couture retired and please correct me if I'm mistaken, was that he felt he was too old to compete with the likes of Lyoto Machida. Okay, what if Randy had had the option of SMMA / SUFC, would he have retired or simply moved to the seniors circuit? It would an interesting question to put to Randy, directly.

      Either way, we'll never know unless the question of a seniors promotion is put to Dana, himself.

  3. Profile photo of gm1

    gm1

    May 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    WHAT PEOPLE DONT SEEM TO KNOW IS HAT TRT, STEROIDS WILL NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER FIGHTER…

    ITS USED FOR FASTER MUSCLE RECOVERY AND REPAIR….NONE OF THESE GUYS HAVE EVER DOMINATED ANY WEIGHT CLASS THEY HAVE BEEN IN…….

    FREAKIN STUPID IDEA TO CRATE A DIFFERENT LEAGUE……

  4. Profile photo of enjoylife321

    enjoylife321

    May 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    The biggest complaint with TRT appears to be high dosing outside fight camps and then lowering levels close to competition. That there would suggest a problem with the commissions testing process rather than the use.

    For most guys, I think retirement catches them first before TRT due to injuries and failing records. In the future, hopefully we will see less guys abusing steroids as young fighters, and having to rely on TRT use. That is dependant on better testing processes and bigger penalties

    Having a seniors divisions would require alot of fighters on TRT. I don't think we are there yet. Most of the TRT abuse focusses on a select minority and those fighters use of TRT has not insulated them from losses as in the case of Chael Sonnen.

    You have to ask yourself whether TRT is the scapegoat for any guy that loses now ?

    Because it seems that TRT will always be to blame….Did BelfortsTRT deliver that headkick to Bisping, or was it just a well timed kick.

    The only way to end the debacle is to ban TRT use completely and let guys retire early. The UFC roster can survive easily by removing the few on TRT.

    At the end of the day, the only thing that needs to be considered is whether it provides an unfair advantage ? If the evidence is yes, then it must be banned period. But if evidence suggests that maintaining avegae levels is not unfair than there is no reason it shouldn't be allowed !

  5. Profile photo of duder113

    duder113

    May 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    this trt use is just as about as lame as weightdropping. Just because it's scientifically approved does not remove the fact that it is cheating.
    People doing this are looking for a cheater's edge, nothing honourable in it.

    • Profile photo of falcon4917

      falcon4917

      May 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Except with weight cutting you can do so under your own ability. Some people are double jointed, some people have long limbs, some have denser muscle…some can weight cut easily. Weight cut is not an issue as a walk around weight can change based on diet and muscle mass and not what you can achieve. Weight cuts allow the finest fighters to enter under natural conditions. If anything they could have the fight 1 hour after weigh ins and then it would be as fair as can be as a lot of fighters would be moving up a weight class. but some could probably fight immediately after a weight cut and hold a size advantage. TRT is a different animal altogether because it is an unnatural formula to get an advantage. People like Silva have fought at 183 and a week out were still at 188 so weight cuts might not affect him so much even if he had no time to bulk up unlike Anthony Jonson who would probably wither. It is a natural advantage for Silva and a natural disadvantage for Jonson. If we say no weight cut which would be very hard to regulate then they will start saying it's not fair that this guy gets to train at this camp which has all the state of the art equipment and another guy gets half as much and has a full time job too.

  6. Profile photo of jmedno5891

    jmedno5891

    May 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    If i was a fighter and could no longer compete with the best of the best because of my age, I wouldn't want to go into some second rate organization to just continue against a bunch of other guys who can't compete at the highest levels either. If there is zero chance of ever being the best again, its time to hang it up.

  7. Profile photo of akieyugames

    akieyugames

    May 12, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Everybody in that league would cry out "innocent"

  8. Profile photo of KeithFarrell

    KeithFarrell

    May 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Good article but don't agree with the idea

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