Aside from a string of major injuries and promotion-shaking championship belt changes, very few things rocked the UFC harder than PED scandals in 2013 and 2014. There’s also no bigger issue in the world of mixed martial arts than what some say is rampant use of PEDs in combat sports. So we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 PED Scandals in MMA. Befitting the unmistakable theatrics surrounding these epic fighter scandals.
At number 10 is the grandmaster himself, Royce Gracie, starring in ”The Emperor’s New Muscle”. Most MMA freaks agree that Royce is the #1 greatest fighter in UFC history… at least, I would say, more than not. He makes the list for several unique, compelling and dramatic reasons, the first being his godly status as a fighter, coupled with the fact that he was found to have an ENORMOUS amount of the steroid nandrolone in his system after his controversial victory over Sakuraba following their 2007 rematch at K-1 Dynamite! He had so much nandrolone in his system that the Commission’s testing devices could not fully register it! What is certain is that he had more than 25 times more nandrolone in his system than what a natural human should register. Further, Royce reacted with one of the more arrogant responses to testing that we’ve seen. After news broke of Gracie’s doping violation, in true Royce form, the king blamed the surfs for the fire in his kingdom, saying:
“I have no idea what they’re talking about. Look at my first UFC. 178 [pounds]. Look at my last fight. 180. For accusing me of using drugs…I never gained a pound in my life. It’s not like I went from 178 to 200 pounds. It’s ridiculous”
Fact-checking reveals he actually was noticeably more yoked in the Sakuraba rematch than ever before and, at the age of 40 is nothing, if not suspicious. The same fact-hunting shows that he actually weighed in at a 188 for the Sakuraba fight and by contrast, was only 175 pounds for the Matt Hughes fight just one year earlier. That translates into a 13-pound muscle gain at the age of 40, calling into serious question the honesty of his protests after the fact.
For this doping violation he received a one-year suspension and a $2500 fine by the California State Athletic Commission. But the biggest punishment of all is this: the fact that he beat Sakuraba in what many say was a clear Sakuraba win, and then having the controversial victory nullified or at least asterisked due to the positive steroid test changes the fairy tale into a tragedy. And although he still tries, no one with a clear conscience believes that he beat Sakuraba, officially, because he cheated. An unfortunate outcome for the Yoda of the UFC… Also it was very sad because after this positive steroid test and scandal, he never fought again. Not even the harshest critic or hater would deny Royce’s rightful place in the UFC and MMA Hall of Fame. It would just be so much nicer if he would be a bit more graceful about the Sakuraba saga … and all would be forgiven.