Almost a week now that I’ve had to digest what happened last Saturday night in Chris Weidman’s first title defense that he won via second round “TKO injury” over Anderson Silva. Can I be honest? Can we all be honest about something? Isn’t Chris Weidman a great thing for this sport and the UFC organization? Sure, he’s more of a wrestler than a striker (although in the second fight against Silva he displayed some serious striking skill), and he doesn’t have a “badass” look to him like a Chuck Liddell, a Brock Lesnar or a Rampage Jackson, but his nickname is the “All-American” and he’s just recently defeated the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time twice. He’s only 29. In all honesty (I’m repeating that word on purpose), I hope he keeps winning and builds up his brand. Young guys like Weidman and Jon Jones are vital to MMA in America for a lot of the casual public to relate to.
Dana White confirmed the Vitor Belfort-challenged title fight and Lorenzo Fertita confirmed that it will be taking place in Las Vegas either in May or July.
I’m excited for this fight, but maybe I’m anxious for the pre-fight proceedings in what will happen in regards to Vitor Belfort’s TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) status.
This isn’t meant to offend anyone, but has to be said: most people are uneducated on TRT and anabolic steroids. That’s alright, since there isn’t a horde of seeping information readily out there in the land of mainstream news-produced knowledge. TRT and anabolic steroids aren’t the ‘same thing’.
TRT is often used to bring a person’s testosterone levels back to its normal state. While I endorse naturally increasing your testosterone levels, first, through diet, sleep and lifestyle changes, who’s to say TRT isn’t a viable option for a 37-year-old mixed martial artist that’s been getting punched in the face for a living for over 20+ years? I think, after so long, after so many shots to head, your body has the potential to just say, “Screw it!” and cease normal testosterone production. One myth out there (and yes, it’s a myth) says that testosterone levels naturally drop with aging, and while that will be a topic in a post I’ll touch on at a later time, I will say this: testosterone levels just don’t magically drop. There has to be an external and internal conflict working together whether it’s stress (self-induced, job related, having kids, etc.) or lifestyle related (avid alcohol consumption, poor quality sleep, shitty diet, other lifestyle factors, etc.).
Fighters, more-so than any other athletes, are prone to low testosterone as they age, because many people don’t know that testosterone as a molecular is predicated on many dependencies. First off, taking head shots as a fighter? There’s a region of the brain called the hypothalamus that controls a horde of processes in the brain most namely the autonomic response system and it correlates with the pituitary. The hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH — like I said before, a fun acronym to remember this is “Guns’n’Roses, Hos!”), which tells the pituitary (anterior pituitary — front) gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). LH then stimulates the Lehdig cells in the testicles to produce — ta-da — testosterone.
While TRT is mostly used to bring someone’s T levels back to normality, it can be abused, which is why TRT is such a hot topic in MMA.
If that doesn’t give you some pause, consider this: since Vitor Belfort’s fourth round keylock submission loss to Jon Jones in September 2012, he’s won three consecutive fights in Brazil, and he’s using TRT. That’s sketchy to me, given the relaxed drug testing down there. How can you not be excited for this fight with Weidman to be in Vegas and whether or not Belfort and Weidman go beyond the first round, and how Belfort can manage going into, say, a third and fourth without gassing like he has in the past, or if Weidman will end the fight in the second.
A lot of people like to write, “Ah! Ah! Ah! TRT isn’t that big of a deal!”, but it is. It’s a huge deal. Consider wound and injury healing, stamina, strength and muscle retention a factor, because it is when testosterone levels are concerned, and that’s huge for a 37-year-old man going into a fight with the undisputed champion who’s eight years his junior.