Cody McKenzie has a different version of what happened regarding the events that led to him receiving a lengthy suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC). And some accusations of his own to boot.
On Wednesday, the former UFC fighter was handed a four-year suspension stemming from an incident on Sept. 14 in which he submitted a fake urine sample to the commission shortly before he was scheduled to walk out for a headlining bout at a Tuff-N-Uff event in Las Vegas. The fight was subsequently canceled, and McKenzie’s case was set to be resolved at a later date.
That date was to be Oct. 24, but McKenzie told MMA Fighting that his case was pushed back so that the commission could use that meeting to rule on the extension of temporary suspensions for Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor regarding their involvement in the post-main event brawl at UFC 229. McKenzie did not show up at the rescheduled hearing on Nov. 14, and the commission passed a motion to “find the respondent in default” and proceed without him.
McKenzie admitted that he lost track of messages sent to him in between the original hearing date and the rescheduled one, but he had larger issues with the commission beyond his hearing being moved.
According to McKenzie, the commission acted inappropriately when asking him to submit a test Sept. 14, particularly one official who McKenzie claims exposed himself when McKenzie refused to let officials observe him urinating. He was already put off by the commission demanding a last-minute urine sample and was shocked when the situation allegedly escalated in bizarre fashion.
“They said if I didn’t piss in a cup right before my fight — literally I was warming up — my fight was about to happen in five minutes and they’re yelling at me, telling me I need to take the piss test and I’m like, ‘No, I can’t take a piss right now. I’m warming up for my fight. I’ve never f*ckin’ taken a piss in my life before a fight. I’ve fought for 15 years. Leave me alone,’” McKenzie told MMA Fighting. “We start fighting back and forth, they started saying we’re not going to let you fight unless you f*ckin’ piss in the cup. So I f*ckin’ just went in the bathroom and poured something in the cup and it was funny because I was telling them I wasn’t going to let them watch me pee.
“And one of the [commission inspectors] whipped out his f*ckin’ dick, ‘cause he’s like, ‘Oh, it’s not that f*ckin’ hard.’ And he takes his dick out and shakes his dick at me. I was like, ‘Dude, that’s f*ckin’ sexual harassment.’ You can’t do that. That’s bullshit, you know? There was five or six witnesses standing right there. Nothing ever came out about it. I talked to the commission about it countless times, they just keep saying there’s an investigation going on, which I haven’t heard a thing about it, they won’t talk to me about any of it. I’m like, ‘You guys are ridiculous. You guys are f*ckin’ crazy.’ That’s nuts to me. You don’t pull your dick out and shake it at somebody, especially in this day and age.”
McKenzie claims there were several witnesses in the room, all affiliated with the commission, who saw the official’s actions. Because of this, McKenzie doesn’t expect the commission to do anything about the situation despite him having sent several complaints via e-mail.
“Backstage, there was probably six of us standing around and this older guy got all pissed at me because I said I wasn’t going to piss right in front of people because I never have had to before and he got all mad at me and he whipped out his dick and shook it at me,” McKenzie said. “And not for a short amount of time. He was yelling at me while he’s shaking his dick at me.
“They haven’t fired the guy that I’ve heard of, I haven’t heard of any repercussions coming their way. It’s just a bunch of bullshit. The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s just a joke.”
Nevada commission executive director Bob Bennett told MMA Fighting on Friday that McKenzie’s version of events is “not accurate,” but the NAC is currently investigating the situation while the inspector in question sits out events.
“[McKenzie’s] allegations are not accurate,” Bennett said. “We’re currently looking into the matter accordingly. At the current time, that inspector is no longer working events for us.”
The NAC’s eventual ruling on McKenzie’s punishment was motivated by what they perceived to be “aggravating circumstances” and “disregard for protocol” in regards to how McKenzie handled the situation Sept. 14 and his failure to communicate with the commission in the time since then. McKenzie was caught providing a fake urine sample, which he claims to have done only because the commission demanded that he have one or the fight would be called off. He adds that it was his understanding that the commission promised him not to reveal any details of the test to the public.
McKenzie denies purposely avoiding the test to hide the presence of any banned substances in his system, noting that while he has smoked marijuana in the past, his current employment forces him to undergo regular drug tests. He simply could not pee when asked.
“I’m just mad at the commission,” McKenzie said. “We’ve been going back-and-forth for a while. They promised me that if I showed them the fake pee that they wouldn’t tell the media. That it wouldn’t get out, that it would just be between us. They lied to me there. They told me I’d be able to fight if I pulled it out. They lied to me up and down. It was just a bunch of BS that was going on there.
“The commission is out of control. They’re terrible. They say they’re here for our safety, but they’ve let me get ripped off my entire career.”
Bennett said McKenzie would have never been promised any such things. Because commissions are run by the state, most disciplinary information is public record, including details of each case.
The length of the suspension is of little concern for McKenzie, who turns 31 in December. His Tuff-N-Uff bout was supposed to be the last of his 11-year career, and he’d planned to propose to his girlfriend in the cage following his fight (with no fight, he later made the proposal at a bar. She said yes, he said). After that, he was going to focus on moving into his new house back in Washington and the seven-day work week that he maintains to pay the bills.
“That was going to be my last fight ever,” McKenzie said. “That was my retirement fight. I haven’t trained for five years for a fight. I work jobs now to keep a roof over my family’s head, I don’t have time to train all the time anymore. There’s no money in it.
“I fought Chad Mendes, the No. 1 ranked guy in the world at the MGM Grand and made 10 grand. What’s the point, you know? I fought in The Ultimate Fighter and fought three guys back-to-back and made $8,000 when I was already 28 grand in debt. There’s no money in the sport, there’s no point in doing it for me anymore. I was a fan favorite, I had a big fan base, but that’s all I had. I didn’t have any money coming my way ever, so I just gave up on the sport about five or six years ago and my record shows it.”
What really rattled McKenzie, who heads into retirement with a 16-11 pro record, was how rapidly the details of his suspension spread and the implications that they had for his reputation.
“It spread like wildfire,” McKenzie said. “It was on the headline f*cking page of f*cking everything. Everything I read when I type my name in came up, ‘F*cking failed.’ ‘Failed.’ ‘Fake pee.’ ‘He’s hiding stuff.’
“Does it f*cking look like I do steroids? Hell no. I’ve never done steroids in my life. Like the commission cares. If you do steroids, you don’t even get in trouble.”
McKenzie estimates that he would have made $14,000 for his Tuff-N-Uff fight, but instead he left that show empty-handed and actually has been ordered by the NAC to pay almost $950 in attorney reimbursement fees. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for McKenzie, who sounds like he only wants to move on from this mess, and that includes the alleged inappropriate behavior of the offending official Sept. 14.
Stating that he doesn’t believe in suing people, McKenzie said that he does not plan to press charges should more information come to light and that he only hopes that the official receives some sort of admonishment for his actions.
“I wish there was a commission to commission the commission,” said McKenzie, not only in regards to the official in question, but what he perceives to be the NAC’s mistreatment of fighters in general.
McKenzie also ran into trouble with a commission after his last fight, which took place in October of last year. The Italian Grappling MMA Federation issued McKenzie a suspension of indefinite length after he failed to submit a urine sample following his loss to Stefano Paterno in Milan. According to McKenzie, he was bloodied in the fight and was more concerned about receiving treatment than taking an unexpected test.
“I fought, I had a huge cut in my head, and right away they’re after me trying to get me to piss in a cup and I got a frickin’ gash on my head about eight inches across and I was asking them could I get a doctor to stitch me up and they didn’t even have a doctor there,” McKenzie said. “So we got into a big, heated argument and I told them just f**k off, you know? I don’t need to piss for anyone. I know I’m not dirty. I know I’m not cheating.”
Despite that recent drama, McKenzie wanted to make it clear that he loves the sport of MMA and loves fighting, but he could not deal with the politics anymore. “I fought a lot of my heroes in the sport,” he said, before reiterating that he is comfortable moving on from competition.
Even as he stumbled late in his career, the former UFC standout is aware that he has retained a loyal following, and when asked why he felt this was the case, he posited that the no-nonsense attitude that likely created a wedge between himself and officials is the same that drew a cult following to him.
“I don’t sugarcoat anything, I don’t lie, I’m not one to bullshit, I tell it how it is and I guess people like that,” McKenzie said. “It’s how I’ve always been and yeah, it hasn’t done me the best in my career, but in life I’m just fine. I get by, I’ll always get by, because I work hard. I know I’ll always get by so I’m going to say what I need to say and I tell the truth, I tell it how it is. So I guess there’s just some people out there who believe in what I say and I hope they do, because I’m not bullshitting.
“I really believe that the commission does absolutely nothing. I’ve been fighting before there was all these commissions in each state and guess what? We all followed the same rules as we follow now. They just came in when there was money and they want a chunk of it and they fine fighters for anything and they do whatever they need to do to get money from these fighters who barely have any money. And it sucks.”
Additional reporting by Marc Raimondi.