Morning Report: Renan Barao vindicates his interim title; Dana White doubts 'Bjork' Rebney runs Bellator

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

As the afterglow of Saturday night's fireworks faded within London's Wembley Arena, where just hours before UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao extended one of MMA's truly remarkable streaks with the performance of a lifetime, UFC President Dana White found himself once more fielding questions about his foremost rival.

Continually referring to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney as "Bjork" -- perhaps accidentally or perhaps mockingly -- White gleefully contrasted the success of the current season of The Ultimate Fighter to Bellator's campaign on Spike TV, before reiterating his frustration with the legal standstill that is the Eddie Alvarez situation.

"Understand guys, you're not dealing with Bellator," White stated. "Bellator doesn't even exist anymore. Do you think f--king Bjork is running f--king Bellator? Do you think Bjork is running Bellator? Do you really think that? There's no way in hell.

"Viacom is running that company. They're a multi-billion dollar f--king business.

"One of the most powerful media companies on Earth. What's the number they sit on? 5.5 billion in cash? 5.5 billion in cash. Break some off for f--king Eddie Alvarez and pay him what he deserves."

By now White was on a roll, and all he needed was the mere suggestion of Viacom utilizing its vast resources to not only preserve the services of Alvarez, but also use the trial as leverage to springboard Bellator into a comparable competitor to Zuffa's goliath.

"They better start," White shot back. "They're doing f--king 700,000 viewers and the numbers are dropping like f--king flies. They better start leveraging something quick. But they built the UFC. You know that, right? (Viacom President and CEO) Philippe Dauman said he built the UFC. Philippe Dauman is the pompous, arrogant guy who runs Viacom, who claims he built the UFC. Well whatever you did building the UFC, brother, you better f--king start doing it again because things aren't looking good over there."

And with that, the latest edition of Dana White versus fill-in-the-blank was in the books. Something tells me this "Bjork" thing might have some legs. But enough of that, let's get to some headlines.

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Barao defends interim title, calls out Cruz. UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao submitted Michael McDonald with a fourth-round arm triangle choke to retain his title at the main event of UFC of FUEL 7. (Video.) Following his victory, Barao called out sidelined champion Dominick Cruz. Cruz responded in turn, saying that nothing about the Brazilian "really concerned" him, and he hoped to return sometime this year for a title unification bout. For more, check out reaction from the pros.

White attacks TRT. In a somewhat surprising turnaround, UFC President Dana White denounced the use of testosterone replacement therapy in mixed martial arts, vowing to increase drug testing on any fighter who seeks a therapeutic use exemption. Said White: "Guys are jacking through roof on their entire training camp, then getting back down to normal levels before the fight, which is cheating. I hate it, I don't like it and I'm going to fight it. And if you are using TRT in the UFC, we're going to start testing the s--t out of you for the entire camp."

Swanson defeats Poirier. Featherweight contender Cub Swanson took a giant leap towards securing a rematch with division champion Jose Aldo on Saturday, defeating Dustin Poirier in an electrifying three-round battle at the co-main event of UFC on FUEL 7.

Cyborg signs with Invicta. Following her release from the UFC, former Strikeforce women's featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Santos inked a multi-fight deal with Invicta Fighting Championships. "Cyborg" is slated to make her promotional debut against Ediane Gomes at Invicta FC 5, which takes place April 5, 2013.

Diaz camp, White dispute over missed tapings. According to UFC President Dana White, welterweight title contender Nick Diaz missed three tapings for the UFC's traditional 'Countdown' show, costing the company a "s--tload" of money. Diaz's lawyer Jonathan Tweedale, however, refuted that claim.

Advancements made in battle for NYC. Mixed martial arts could well be on the verge of obtaining legal sanction in New York following a concession made by the New York Attorney General's office regarding an interpretation of the existing state laws. Nonetheless, several hurdles remain.

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MEDIA STEW

Strongest case for the airing of fighter walkouts: James Te Huna's inspired Men in Black routine from Saturday night.

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As always, if you missed any part of last week's Bellator offering, feel free to catch up with the entire Bellator 89 main card below. (Click to watch.)

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You knew it was only a matter of time before we saw an MMA-related "Harlem Shake" video. (And yes, there's an extended version.)

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Observant fight fans may have recognized the name of Cris Cyborg's next opponent. But Ediane Gomes not only carries a 25-second loss to Ronda Rousey on her record, she also fought this fellow at an underground Vale Tudo match in Brazil. No joke. (Jump to 1:45. Also, the fight afterward is bananas.)

(HT: MiddleEasy)

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Remember when Pat Barry did this to his girlfriend, Rose Namajunas? Well, she got him back.

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So this footage of Joe Lauzon's recent eating challenge may simultaneously be one of the greatest and most disgusting things we've ever featured in this column. To remind you, the frightening menu consisted of: one KFC Double Down sandwich, one Five Guys cheeseburger, one Doritos Locos Taco, one small Wendy's fry, five McDonald's nuggets, one 10-ounce glass of milk, one slice of Papa Gino's pizza, two Dunkin Donuts, one Burger King Hershey's Pie, and five Double-Stuff Oreos. (Plus additional Oreos.)

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Esteemed cartoonist and occasional Morning Report contributor Kyle Haase returns to immortalize Dana White's latest slip of the tongue, and we have to admit, he did a pretty fantastic job. (To see more of Kyle's work, check out his deviantART page or hit him up on Twitter.)

Bjork_medium

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STILL (INTERIM) CHAMP

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FEATHERWEIGHT FIREWORKS

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INJURY UPDATE

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CESAR RESPONDS

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THAT SHIRT

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LOOKING LIGHT

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TO VITOR

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TO BISPING

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MUSINGS FROM THE MMA WORLD, PT. 1

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MUSINGS FROM THE MMA WORLD, PT. 2

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TYPO OF THE YEAR

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced over the weekend (Friday, February 15, 2013 - Sunday, February 17):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees MikeWellman88 return to ask: Dana's stance on TRT is evolving, but what made him come around?

This week UFC President Dana White came out vehemently against fighters with TUEs ( Testosterone Use Exemptions) and the overall usage of TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy). At a fan Q&A in the UK, Dana first let the cat out of the bag that he had changed his stance, and then elaborated at the post-fight press conference following UFC on Fuel 7.

"We're gonna start testing the sh** outta you, throughout your entire camp," White advised fighters who are currently benefiting from extra testosterone between fights. He did acknowledge his past stance on the issue also.

"If you asked me three months ago, it's legal. It's sport science, but everybody figures out a way to take a great thing and cheat, and make it bad. I've seen over the last year, situations where guys...What I believe guys are doing is jacking this stuff up through the camp".

While these statements are encouraging, and are certainly the building blocks to better, more comprehensive testing for PEDs in our sport, the question remains, what made Dana change his tune? Who are these guys that he has learned are ‘making it bad'?

Dana specifically mentioned fighters who are using TRT are who he intends to "test the sh- out of", so we can exclude all of our internal assumptions about who might be using PEDs, and who has tested positive in the past. Who are the fighters then, who took this concept, one that most of the mma media and fan community already knew of, and one which has been discussed at length in forums, message boards, on mma television shows, on radio shows, and made a true believer out of Dana White?

Rampage Jackson, in a 2012 interview with Fighter's Only, provided some fighter-insight into the TRT process, describing that he suffered from low levels, and the fact that he wanted to fight on a certain date and testosterone would enable him to heal up quicker from injury were factors in his decision. Chael Sonnen tested above the permitted ratio after his first fight with Anderson Silva, and end result was simply the capacity building for him to get approval for normal levels in the future. Frank Mir and Shane Roller also lost fights while being on TRT, causing Roller, along with Nate Marquardt, who's past with TRT includes being cut from the UFC for being unable to level-out at the right time before a fight, to stop seeking the exemptions, and get off of TRT.

I bring up these three sets of circumstances to provide some context into things that seemingly did not dissuade Dana in his opinion, even though they ultimately served to provide glaring evidence against TRT usage. He already knew about these things. Chael was within minutes of winning a title he would have been stripped of after the fact, and he got a rematch and coaching spot on The Ultimate Fighter. Marquardt already trainwrecked that UFC on Versus main event, and has since been let back into the fold. Rampage is another fighter who didn't win on TRT, but he exited the UFC on his own accord. So we have all these cases of TRT mishaps, and still Dana wasn't embracing ideas like the UFC testing fighters more often, or another entity like VADA aiding the process. Something made that change, a little anyway.

One point to make before any further negative public sentiment arises is that fighters who are on the TRT program are getting tested more than non-TRT fighters, aside from the VADA fighters, which are few and far between. These are the guys who at least on some level are being upfront about their usage of testosterone, and are coming in at normal levels at given intervals. Now, that being said, ‘fight time' testosterone levels aren't what changed uncle Dana's mind about the stuff.

"I don't like to see a natural, gifted athlete go in and fight a guy who's been jacked up on TRT for three months."

Another relevant piece of information is the very curious case of Michael Bisping, who's three biggest losses in the UFC, all of which were in no.1 contender fights, came against fighters using TRT. Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and most recently Vitor Belfort all defeated the Brit in situations where a win for Bisping would have led to a title fight. Bisping released a public statement on the matter after the loss which included the following excerpt:

"Over the past couple years, and even right before the fight, I have made my views on TRT very, very clear. I don't feel that I need to go into depth about it again right now. All I have to add, about this specific instance, is that it is very disappointing that someone who was caught cheating with testosterone in the past, now gets to use testosterone legally. A well known side effect of steroids is that it reduces testosterone, so I don't understand how it would make sense to then grant someone an exemption to then increase testosterone."

We can only assume which fighters led Dana to rethink his TRT philosophy, and it's safe to say that even though he's going to be targeting fighters on TRT, he is starting to see the light when it comes to the tactics involved in PED abuse, and there are probably fighters who aren't approved for TUEs who's recent performance and behavior influenced his decision. One thing Dana did say though, that may have been the most fruitful of all his TRT sound bytes this weekend, leads us in a certain direction:

"If your test level isn't high enough, maybe you're too old to fight."

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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