RIO DE JANEIRO -- Heavyweight Geronimo dos Santos was set to make his UFC debut Saturday night in his native Brazil, however, a pre-fight drug test forced him off the card and subsequently put his MMA career in jeopardy.
According to dos Santos' manager Alex Davis, the Brazilian big man tested positive for Hepatitis B last week during a routine pre-fight blood test administered by the UFC, who, since there is no athletic commission in Brazil, tested all the UFC 153 fighters. The news was first reported by Guilherme Cruz of Tatame.com and Marc Ratner, the UFC's VP of regulatory affairs, confirmed it on Thursday.
According to PubMed Health, Hepatitis B is caused by irritation and swelling of the liver due to infection. Davis said dos Santos will need to undergo chemotherapy to rid himself of the disease, but since the treatment is very expensive, he didn't know when dos Santos would start doing it. So for now, the Brazilian heavyweight's UFC career has been put on hold.
"The contract is going to have to be voided because he just can't fight," Davis said, "but [UFC matchmaker] Joe [Silva] told me [Thursday] that if he does the chemotherapy and has a negative viral count, then he'll be back."
Davis believes dos Santos contracted the disease in a fight in Brazil, where he said local shows do not administer pre-fight blood tests. He said he will now require all of his fighters' opponents to take one before a fight. He said dos Santos tested positive for Hepatitis B prior to his July 2010 fight against Josh Barnett in Australia, but since the disease was deemed inactive, he was cleared to fight. That was not the case this time around.
The 32-year-old dos Santos (34-14) has fought in 48 pro MMA bouts since his debut in Feb. 2006, and Davis admitted that having his UFC debut taken away from him was devastating.
"He cried," Davis said of dos Santos' reaction to the news. "It was a deep tragedy. This guy came from a very simple [background], a truck tire repair guy.
"He comes from a very poor background. He started fighting to make his life better."
Gabriel Gonzaga, who was supposed to fight dos Santos at UFC 153, is in Rio and will be used a late replacement in case something should happen to either Dave Herman or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira before their bout on Saturday night.