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Mailbag: Drug Tests, Greasing Allegations, and More Fun Stuff

You have questions, and I have something resembling answers. What do you say we cut the preamble and put those two things together?

Thanks to all of you who sent in questions via email or Twitter (@benfowlkesmma). Now let's do this.

@AlykhanWalji: Why doesn't Fedor cut weight to LHW or MW? Outside of the UFC the HW division is bare & cutting weight would challenge him.

Could Fedor cut to 205 pounds, considering his height, weight, and (to put it as gently as possible) doughy physique? Probably. But why? He's the most dominant heavyweight on the planet right now, and the fact that he does so as a small-ish guy for the division only makes that more impressive. When you're the best fighter in the highest weight class, why change?

I'd also argue that your whole premise here is flawed. The heavyweight division outside the UFC is bare? Not compared to the light heavyweight division outside the UFC. Strikeforce's 205-pound class basically consists of "King" Mo Lawal and Gegard Mousasi. The former is still too inexperienced to give Fedor a challenge, and the latter is his buddy whose stock just went down after the loss to Lawal.

As long as Overeem is still out there, Fedor still has at least one reason to stick around at heavyweight.

...I made the following comment [in this article]:

"I don't think this is really news. The UFC/WEC doesn't always have every fighter tested. After fights there's usually an article listing who tested cleanly, but I can't remember a time when it listed every fighter on the card. Since it's the commission that determines the testing procedures maybe BF could elaborate on what 'common' drug testing practices are. How does it work for the NSAC?"

Is it possible for you to address these questions?


Wow, a comment that became an actual question. I like it. What's most uncommon about Missouri's standards is that, at least from what I've been told by their administrator, they won't necessarily tell us who they tested unless someone fails. If everyone tests clean, we may hear nothing at all from them. That doesn't help anyone, as far as I can tell. If I was Overeem and I had passed a drug test after all the accusations and sly insinuations, I'd certainly want everyone to know it.

Most U.S. commissions will test the guys in the main event, particularly if it's a title fight, and they'll also usually test people who have popped positive in the past. New Jersey, for instance, is even stricter than most. At UFC 111 in Newark, every fighter was tested. Some were also required to undergo surprise blood tests in the weeks leading up to the fight, for which they were only given 48 hours notice. Other commissions, like Nevada, have conducted out-of-competition tests to try and catch potential drug users of-guard. Missouri is nowhere near this vigilant.

To be clear, Missouri could test every fighter on Saturday night's Strikeforce event. They haven't said that they won't. They just haven't said that they will, or that they'll tell us who was tested once it's all over.

On a related note, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told radio host Carmichael Dave that the organization would conduct its own tests on every single fighter after today's weigh-ins, just to make sure everyone is clean. Good for Strikeforce for doing what's necessary to give this event as much legitimacy as possible, especially given all the attention the topic has garnered lately. That's called trouble-shooting, and it's a sign of a good CEO.

@Shinetology: Could there be any repercussions following Kosheck's greasing accusations on Daley, its a serious accusation if true or false.

Normally I'd agree with you that it's a serious accusation, but did you happen to see the sucker punch at the end of the fight? As in, the breach of all ethical and professional codes that resulted in him being fired/banned from the UFC? This ringing any bells?

What I'm saying is that a) greasing is a comparatively minor deal after that, and b) it's not exactly something you can prove a week after the fight. Unless we can test the residue on the referee's shirt Dan Miragliotta wore that night, or unless someone can produce a video of Daley smearing Crisco all over his body in the locker room, the accusation is little more than idle talk.

@girllovesnascar: Why does a fighter train in altitude if they are not fighting at altitude?

I briefly considered trying to answer your question myself, but I was quickly forced to admit that I only barely knew what I was talking about. So I asked an expert: Fight! Magazine's P.R. Cole. Here's what she said:

"Long- term exposure to high altitudes increases the blood's ability to carry oxygen. The body also produces more red blood cells than normal to deal with the environmental stress. The hormone erythropoietin (EPO) starts this process within 15 hours of exposure to high altitude.

Many athletes believe that training at altitude will help to boost endurance performance when they return to sea level because of these adaptations. The majority of research behind this theory is pretty much flawed in experimental design so it's tough to tell just how useful this practice is. It may be possible for aerobic performance to slightly improve if the competition takes place upon immediate return to sea level.

It's also important to note that when training at 4,000 meters above sea level, muscles produce less lactic acid during intense training. Lactic acid accumulation is one of the contributors to fatigue. In an environment where less is produced by working muscles, it may be possible to train longer and harder without gassing out to exercise induced fatigue.

Unfortunately, it's also possible that the depressed levels of lactic acid are a symptom of a reduced central nervous system drive, which would ultimately diminish capacity for an all out-physical effort."

I couldn't have put it better myself. Because I'm too ignorant.

@Sort3r: could the Randy Couture / James Toney fight potentially be the most expensive fight in mma history?

Short answer: probably not. Long answer: are you familiar with the way Affliction used to burn through cash? The t-shirt guys gave Tim Sylvia $800,000 to fall down and bleed against Fedor in their first event. We still don't know for sure what Fedor's true cost to them was, but it was almost certainly more than the $300,000 reported figure.

Toney's going to earn a pretty penny from the UFC, as will Couture, and what with all the "locker room bonuses" there's really no telling how much each man is truly taking home. But even if Toney/Couture rivals Emelianenko/Sylvia, it's not so much about what you're paying as much as what you're getting in return. With at least one other strong fight on the card, the UFC will outpace Affliction's first pay-per-view profits without breaking a sweat.

@Resnicno: do you think Shogun's reign will last for a long time? Who do you think can be a legitimate threat to his belt?

For reasons that may or may not be related to an ancient gypsy curse, the UFC's light heavyweight belt is one of the hardest to hold. It probably also has a lot to do with how stacked the division has consistently been, but I never like to rule out a gypsy curse unless I know for sure.

Rua has the skills to hold the belt for a while, but I thought the same thing about Lyoto Machida and "Rampage" Jackson. Not only is 205 a tough division, it's stocked with many different types of fighters. Rua looked great against counter-strikers like Machida and Chuck Liddell, but how will he do against wrestlers like Rashad Evans or Jon Jones? Would a second fight with Jackson, who has improved significantly since his Pride days, turn out the same?

We have no way of knowing the answers yet, and that's why they have the fights. I like Rua's chances to make at least one title defense, but I'm not enough of a fool to predict a long reign in a division this volatile.

@steampunk22: are you surprised how quickly people are abandoning the Machida bandwagon? He's still a top fighter in the division.

I might be surprised if I hadn't been following MMA for years. As fighters love to say with more than a hint of bitterness in their voices, 'You're only as good as your last fight.'

It's not true, of course, but perception is reality. Bandwagons were made for easy on and off access. Let Rua get starched in his first title defense and see if people don't abandon him just as easily.

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