The ongoing PFL season faced dramatic changes after 10 fighters across the promotion faced suspensions for testing positive for a variety of banned substances following the first three cards of the year, which took place in Las Vegas.
While the majority of the positive drug tests involved heavyweights or light heavyweights, the featherweight division still took a hit after both Alejandro Flores and Daniel Torres were removed from the 2023 season after being flagged by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
None of it sits well with 2022 PFL featherweight king Brendan Loughnane, who expressed his concerns over the troubling amount of suspensions during an appearance on The MMA Hour ahead of his next fight on Thursday against Jesus Pinedo.
“I’ve been quite vocal about it,” Loughnane said. “Obviously, I’m not happy about it one bit. We put enough on the line as it is. My brain’s on the line. My health’s on the line. And then everyone’s popping for all types of stuff.
“They sent a list out, I’ve seen it online, of what people were actually popping for. Some of them are like four substances. It’s like, what? I’m getting in the cage and fighting these people?”
The banned substances ranged from anabolic steroids to diuretics to clomiphene, which is actually a fertility drug that can also alter testosterone levels in men.
Loughnane escaped facing anyone who tested positive after he finished ex-UFC title challenger Marlon Moraes in his first fight of the season.
According to Loughnane, he knows from personal experience what it’s like to go up against somebody using performance-enhancing drugs and how they can create an unfair advantage, especially in combat sports.
“In training, you can tell so [easily],” Loughnane said. “I’ve trained with guys and then six months later I’ve trained with them and touched them and I’m going, ‘Yeah, he’s a brick wall. He’s on some stuff.’ You can definitely tell.
“You can’t so much tell with the naked eye sometimes, but there’s a feel factor and it’s definitely something that’s rife in our sport and it needs kicking out. It really does. There’s enough danger in this sport anyway. We don’t need any more.”
All of the fighters who tested positive were removed from the 2023 PFL season.
Now the PFL shifts to Atlanta for the next few cards, and Loughnane hopes that all of the cheaters have been weeded out and that drug testing will ramp up again as the season moves closer to the semifinals and finals.
“Thank God, they’ve all been caught,” Loughnane said. “Hopefully that sends a message to everybody that’s doing it in here and hopefully that’s the end of it. Hopefully there’s going to be more stringent testing coming up to the semifinals. It has to happen, obviously.”