Robert Drysdale finally makes his UFC debut on Sunday night, and he decided to open up about his controversial start in the promotion in 2013.
Drysdale, a jiu-jitsu world champion and ADCC openweight champion, was set to make his promotional debut at UFC 167, but was removed from a light heavyweight bout with Cody Donovan after failing a Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) mandated out-of-competition drug test.
Ironically, Drysdale was never suspended by the commission or punished by the UFC for testing to a 19.4-to-1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone level (the cutoff level is 6-to-1).
"It was a big misunderstanding. I didn’t do anything dishonest," Drysdale told MMAFighting.com. "What really happened was a bureaucratic issue. I thought I had a license (to do testosterone replacement therapy), but one of the files wasn’t processed (by the commission). They didn’t deny (my TUE), the thing was they didn’t process my file.
"There was no dishonesty. As soon as I found out about it, I sent them my papers and cleared that up. I was never suspended, and the UFC didn’t release me. I didn’t suffer any punishment because I didn’t do anything wrong. I couldn’t fight earlier (this year) because I got injured, that’s all."
It took so long for him to return that testosterone replacement therapy is now banned by the commission, but Drysdale says that didn’t affect his performance in training.
"It’s in the past. TRT is banned, and I’m cool without it. I don’t need it. I never needed it," he said. "It was my doctor’s decision, not mine.
"If you have a health issue, you’ll talk to a doctor. I would never talk to a plumber if I had a health issue, and I wouldn’t talk to a doctor if I had a plumbing issue. I won’t pretend I’m a specialist on this matter. I spoke to my doctors and heard their opinion. It’s a complicated process."
With TRT off the table, Drysdale realized that the only thing he really needed was rest.
"I changed my diet and my life," he said. "I think that my testosterone levels came back low because I trained so hard and never rested. I was obsessed with training. I believed that overtraining was a myth and rest was for lazy people, so I trained twice a day, seven days a week. I’m taking care of myself now."
"I don’t know him very much. I only know what I saw on the internet," Drysdale said. "He’s tough, undefeated. He’s not a can. There’s no easy fight in the UFC."
"He has a predictable style," he continued. "He’s a jiu-jitsu brown belt, but I’m used to train with the best black belts in the world so a brown belt won’t surprise me on the ground. I’ve been working on my striking game for years, so I’m ready to fight standing if I have to.
"I was never this calm before a fight, even in my jiu-jitsu days. And that’s funny, because this might be the most important fight of my life. I’m confident, well-trained. There is no doubt in my mind, I’m ready for everything."
Drysdale thinks Berish "has a predictable style," but you can make a point that he also does.
"Yes, that’s true," the grappling wizard agreed. "I can’t hide it. I spent my whole life competing in jiu-jitsu. Even if I become a better striker than I am as a grappler in the future, which is unlikely, people will always fear going to the ground with me. It’s part of the game. I may be predictable, but MMA is more complicated than that. Everybody knows GSP had a good striking and he would take you down, but nobody beat him. We all become predictable one day."
Drysdale, who turns 33 years old in October, won’t set any goals for his MMA career. Entering the Octagon after six first-round submission victories in six professional fights, he just wants to have fun.
"I had a long career in jiu-jitsu and grappling, so it’s like starting a whole new career now. I like being the beginner again," he said. "I wouldn’t feel complete if I hadn’t started a career in MMA. Where I’m going, I don’t know. I want to be the best I can be, and I have high standards. I don’t like to set goals like beating this guy or winning the title because goals limit you."