In news that should surprise no one, a fighter nicknamed “Bigfoot” with a head the size of an Easter Island statue tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. After Antonio Silva’s epic matchup with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Bigfoot in Brisbane, Australia, it was discovered that he received at therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Not only did he receive a TUE, but he had elevated levels of testosterone during their bout.
Looking back on it, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Silva had something strange going on with his body the night of that bout. Silva has never been known to have an iron chin with 3 KO’s on his record. Furthermore, Hunt hits harder than any other fighter he has faced and Silva was taking powerful blows flush to the face. Now, I’m not going to pretend to know if elevated levels of testosterone directly led to this increased ability to take a punch, but I find it hard to believe that it had nothing to do with it.
Upon hearing the news, Hunt reacted in the most “Mark Hunt-esque” way:
“S–t, I need to get on some of this s–t. F–k, I don’t know how these guys are doing this s–t. I should get some of that s–t, too.”
The case for Silva’s TUE is a bit more complicated than, say Vitor Belfort’s case, because he suffers from Acromegaly (the same disease that killed Andre the Giant). Unlike Andre the Giant, Silva had surgery to remove his tumorous pituitary gland, which can cause his testosterone levels to be low.
Unfortunately for Silva, he also tested positive for Boldenone in 2008 while fighting for Elite XC. Boldenone is a horse steroid. Last time I checked, Acromegaly does not cause horse steroids to magically appear in someone’s body. Maybe he has a legitimate reason for his TUE but it doesn’t help his case that he has allegedly pumped horse steroids into his veins in the past.
Regardless, TRT is the way of life nowadays in the UFC. As a fan you can either learn to love it (as I have) or continue to beat your head against a brick wall as more and more fighters get on the “Jesus juice.” When I look at the things it allows fighters to do, such as allowing Belfort to blow dudes doors off with his newfound kicking abilities, it is hard to argue against the results. Would I be mad if it went away? No. It would ultimately be healthier for the fighters and the sport if former steroid users were not allowed to receive TUE’s. But since the UFC is in the business of making money, and TRT obviously allows fighters to fight harder for longer periods of time, they aren’t going to do anything to jeopardize that.
If TRT wasn’t causing such drastic and exciting changes in fighters, it would be much harder to be apathetic about its use. But considering the UFC’s attitude toward TRT and the positive affects that TRT has on fighter’s skills, It is hard not to look at its use as simply a part of modern MMA as we know it. It isn’t going anywhere, which is regrettable in some ways, but ultimately beneficial for fans that want to watch fighters fight at a high level.