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Tim Kennedy on MMA's drug problem: 'It's going to get worse before it gets better'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 183 was supposed to be an historic night for the organization in a good way. Two stars of the sport, Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz, were making their returns after long layoffs. Silva, the greatest UFC champion, was attempting to come back from a gruesome broken leg.

Three days later, UFC 183 made history alright -- for all the wrong reasons. News broke that Silva had failed an out-of-competition drug test for anabolic steroid metabolites nearly a month before the bout. And Diaz popped for marijuana metabolites in a post-fight drug screening.

These failed drug tests come less than a month after we learned UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones failed a pre-fight drug test for cocaine metabolites. And Tuesday, UFC middleweight contender Hector Lombard was pulled from the UFC 186 co-main event for testing positive in a post-fight drug test for an anabolic steroid at UFC 182.

As far as Tim Kennedy is concerned, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

"There's a crazy problem," Kennedy told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "The inevitable is gonna happen and where somebody is going to get seriously hurt and the person that caused that is gonna test positive and then the sport is ... "

Kennedy, a longtime anti-drug advocate in MMA, didn't have to finish his thought. We all get where he was going -- to a scary place. One Kennedy thinks is inevitable at this point.

"I'm talking about like something horrible, maybe even something gone wrong where a bad drug is used and something happens to the athlete before the fight and now his kidneys are failing and his liver is failing," Kennedy said. "Guess what? That's what happens when you use steroids. So yeah, it's going to get worse before it gets better."

Kennedy, 35, said he has been approached by someone offering him performance-enhancing drugs almost on a monthly basis during his 13-year MMA career. He said two such people he considered friends and now no longer associates with them. Kennedy, a special forces officer in the U.S. Army, said he didn't even take PEDs when he was overseas, where guys use "just to stay alive, to not get blown up."

"Even over there, it's been tempting," Kennedy said. "As God as my witness, never have I ever used or even thought about using. It's been tempting, I can't lie."

The Austin, Texas resident seems to be in the minority. Kennedy said "60 to 70 percent" of MMA fighters are using performance-enhancing drugs. And he believes that unless the UFC stars cracking down with year-round, random drug-testing, as the promotion spoke about doing last year, the problem will not stop. UFC president Dana White has since said the organization will not institute such a program. Kennedy refers to quotes about PEDs from White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta "lip service."

"I think that number is going to continue to go up unless the UFC changes things," Kennedy said. "But myself, Lyoto Machida, the old-school guys that still care about martial arts, we're going away. That generation is leaving and the younger athlete is coming in and that athlete is one abusing dude."

Kennedy is also convinced that something fishy is going on with the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC). Silva's test occurred on Jan. 9 and the results didn't come back to the commission until three days after the fight. Had it returned before the bout, Silva would have been pulled for failing the screening. When asked by Helwani if he thought the NAC was corrupt, Kennedy responded, "absolutely," because the commission stands to lose a ton of money if a big-drawing fight does not go on as planned.

"Now they're just insulting us," Kennedy said.

Kennedy is in the middle of a sabbatical from fighting following his loss to Yoel Romero at UFC 178 in September. Like friend and FOX analyst Brian Stann, he said he is willing to be a public advocate for cleaning up the sport he loves. Because, from here, Kennedy only thinks something very, very bad is going to happen and change MMA forever. And not in a good way.

"I'm honestly surprised it hasn't happened yet," Kennedy said. "If you look at the number of athletes using and some of the fantastic finishes. It doesn't even have to be a horrible injury. It can just be a knockout and the guy comes in and tests positive. That in itself. That guy just got a serious amount of damage done to his brain done by a dude who is using steroids. We're not putting balls in holes. We're not playing golf. We're not playing basketball. We're not hitting balls out of a park. We're hitting each other in the head and then we have guys using anabolic steroids and testosterone and HGH."