Morning Report: Vitor Belfort joins the expanding list of professional fighters competing on TRT

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Against the backdrop of yesterday's news, one had to wonder how Michael Bisping felt. For all his shortcomings, the brash Brit has emerged as one of the loudest and harshest critics against the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in mixed martial arts.

"At some point, as you start getting older, your balls don't work as well and you don't make as much testosterone. But, that's life and you deal with it," he famously declared last year.

The narrative on Bisping is a common refrain by now. ‘Can't win the big one.' And it's true, "The Count" is perhaps the most renowned fighter employed by the UFC to never earn a shot at gold. Now, with a window of opportunity gradually closing as he approaches his mid-30s, Bisping's recent TKO loss could be the nail in the proverbial coffin of that legacy.

But look back at the three instances when he was one fight away and a disconcerting pattern emerges. Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen, both admitted TRT users. And now we can add Vitor Belfort to that list.

Sure, it's not altogether surprising to hear the 35-year-old Belfort requested a therapeutic use exemption. Belfort tested positive for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone back in 2006, and any TRT suspicions should likely have been put to bed after he delivered a bizarre, rambling answer regarding artificial testosterone to ESPN.

But the stark truth of the matter is Bisping was rendered half-unconscious by a man enhancing his natural abilities through unnatural means, with direct permission from the overseers of an innately dangerous sport.

The Brit has yet to comment on the subject, though if and when he does, it will likely be perceived as whining, which seems rather unfair. Though ultimately, I suppose, these are the rules we choose to play by, regardless of how skewed they may seem.

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Belfort joins TRT list. UFC officials confirmed that Vitor Belfort fought at UFC on FX 7 on a "medically approved testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) program after being diagnosed with hypogonadism." Belfort defeated Michael Bisping via second-round head kick at the event, derailing Bisping's potential shot at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Bellator 88 weigh-in results. All eight main card fighters met their required weight at Wednesday's official Bellator 88 weigh-ins, including middleweight title challengers Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao.

Tavares suspended. Thiago Tavares recieved a nine-month suspension -- retroactive to January 19, 2013 -- after testing positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone at UFC on FX 7.

Barnett declines UFC offer. According to Leland LaBarre, manager of former Strikeforce heavyweight Josh Barnett, his client rejected the UFC's recent contract offer. LaBarre stated that compensation was not an issue, but rather, "some outlying issues -- one in particular -- that as of this point we were unable to agree on."

Couture responds further to White. UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture elaborated on his thought process behind leaving Zuffa for Spike TV, telling ESPN, "At the end of the day, we have to recognize we are a brand. We need to control our own destinies as much as we can. I think standing up for yourself and realizing I have a small window of opportunity as an athlete to make significant amount of money, and that has to carry me through the rest of my life."

Silva's manager prefers slower path to title shot. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva's manager, Alex Davis, admitted he would prefer the UFC give his client a few more fights before granting a rematch against UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who defeated Silva in bloody fashion a mere eight months ago.

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MEDIA STEW

We featured it in-part yesterday, but now complete footage of Uriah Hall's grisly knockout of Adam Cella has been uploaded, including the dramatic aftermath. Hall softly apologizing as Cella wheezes on the ground may be one of the most poignant moments in TUF history.

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If Hector Lombard wasn't a professional fighter, he'd apparently be a lost and violent person. So let's just be glad he's a professional fighter.

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Go ahead and jump to 0:32. One of these two grey-haired fellows is about to tumble down like a redwood during logging season.

(HT: MiddleEasy)

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One more knockout, you say? Okay, just one more.

(HT: Bloody Elbow)

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Wait... what about Terabithia?

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I probably spent more time than I should have hunting for a quality version of Uriah Hall's 2010 bout with Chris Weidman. Unfortunately the best I could find was this shaky cageside video, but it's still fascinating footage considering where these two men are less than three years later.

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TAKING THE HIGH ROAD, FOR NOW

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ON THE MEND

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HAD YOU PEGGED AS A COCOA PUFFS MAN

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YUP

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Wednesday, February 6, 2012):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees Zane Simon examine: The End of an Era: The death of the weekend warrior in MMA

This has been slowly happening for years now, but last night's episode of TUF made it especially present in my mind. We have finally reached the point in MMA as a sport, where trying hard isn't good enough any more. Every few events Goldie or Rogan (usually Goldie) like to trot out the "Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard." line like a show pony to remind us how unpredictable MMA is, but increasingly this isn't the case.

MMA has become legitimately athletic. Occasionally fighters buck the trend (see Silva, Antonio & Noguiera, Lil'), especially at LHW and HW where power is entirely disproportionate to chin or cardio, but these instances are becoming increasingly rare. Cerrone vs. Pettis, Volkman vs. Green, and Jordan vs. Russow are all instances of fights that looked close on paper but were decided by huge disparities in raw athletic talent.

Today everyone works hard, and if you're not the most gifted athlete in the world, then you 'd better specialize because being the "toughest dog in the fight," as Forrest Griffin once famously put it, just isn't good enough anymore. It's interesting to see how the sport has morphed and will continue to do so as a result of this.

One of the most notable results may be a resurgence of BJJ experts, as it is the fight system most associated with neutralizing athleticism. But, as Urijah Hall showed, the biggest change so far has been an increase in the variety of finishes. Fighters are stronger and faster than ever before, but they're not harder to knock out. As they become more dynamic finishes become more surprising and entertaining.

There has always been something endearing to me about the average joe fighters, guys who weren't the best athletes but made up for it with their grit and determination. But as a whole its a chapter that I'm more than happy to leave behind.

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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