UFC Fighters That Took Steroids Or peds (Who Were Caught!)
With all that goes on in the sport of mixed martial arts, it’s often hard to keep up. And in more recent years with the advent of new testing regulations being implemented. Numerous fans have asked, how many UFC fighters are on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs?
Well, truth be known, some of the biggest stars and champions in the sport have along the way been caught out. Aside from those who were suspected, there is a long list of confirmed UFC fighters on steroids. Who, as a result, have been suspended or banned for some time.
According to many closely involved with the world of mixed martial arts. Pre USADA cheating in the form of performance-enhancing drugs was rife in the sport. From the early days of the UFC to Pride Fighting championships.
Of course, one of the obvious points about this is we simply don’t know how long or how much the fighters have been taking throughout their careers. Which leads to doubts about the validity of their achievements in the sport.
Below you will find the former champions, either in the UFC or other major promotions who have competed in the UFC. That at one point or another were caught on one or other type of steroid and as a result, failed their drugs test.
“All you motherf*****s are on steroids”Nick Diaz – following five year USADA ban
List Of MMA Cheats
Just click on a name below to be brought to that fighter and their PED profile further down the page in the article. Check out page two for the remaining fighters.
- Alistair Overeem
- Anderson Silva
- Brock Lesnar
- Cris Cyborg
- Dan Henderson
- Frank Mir
- Gilbert Melendez
- Jon Jones
Alistair Overeem is often cited as perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time. Having won titles in three major promotions outside of the UFC, there’s’ little doubting his stature as one of the most skilled fighters in the sport. But along the way to his phenomenal success, The Reem has been busted for exceedingly high levels of Testosterone at 14 – 1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone, where an allowed ratio is 6-to-1O.
Back in 2007, he had won the vacant Strikeforce heavyweight title, defeating Paul Buentello in the second round of their fight. Then in December 2010 at K1 Dynamite, he would make quick work of late replacement Todd Duffee. Finishing the heavyweight via KO at just nineteen seconds into their bout.
During 2010 Alistair would manage to make a successful jump to K1 kickboxing. Defeating every fighter he faced in the early rounds. Then in December of the same year, winning the Grand Prix by defeating living legend Peter Aerts in the final.
Back to UFC 141, Overeem handily dealt with the former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Stopping him via TKO via a kick to the body and punches.
With his quick dispatch of the former champ, he was then scheduled to face the division champion, Junior Dos Santos, at UFC 146 in May 2012. But the fight was never to be as Overeem failed a Nevada State Athletic Commission pre-fight drugs test. Which then led to him being suspended from the sport for nine months.
Changes In His Physical Appearance
Up until 2007, Overeem had completed at middleweight and light heavyweight, before beefing up and moving into the heavyweight division. And as his heavyweight career progressed, there was marked change in his physical appearance. As year after year, he seemed to add more and more muscle to his already bulking frame.
In the years leading up to his suspension, it got to a point where his physical appearance had changed so much. People began to ask questions about how he had managed to add so much lean muscle, without losing his speed and explosiveness.
To which Alistair replied that he was now eating lots of horsemeat. However, following his 2012 failed drugs test, Overeem would go on to lose his next two fights in MMA. Something which was pointed out in a 2014 interview by MMA icon and fellow Dutchman Bas Rutten.
When we talk about pound for pound fighters, one name is consistently mentioned and that is, of course, Anderson Silva. One of the most dominant fighters of his generation, Silva’s unmistakable style set him apart from the majority of fighters in the sport. And no doubt inspired a whole generation of young people around the world to take up the sport of mixed martial arts.
Anderson is the former Shooto, Cage Rage and UFC middleweight champion. As a side note, he won the Cage Rage title by beating the now infamous UK bank robber Lee Murray in September 2014. But that is a story for another time.
defending His UFC Title
Over a four year period, Silva would go on to defend his UFC title a total of eight times. Intermittently moving up to light heavyweight to test himself.
In an unbeaten streak where The Spider looked unbeatable, cementing his legacy as one of the sport’s greats.
However, in 2013 he would lose his title to rising middleweight Chris Weidman. And again in their rematch just five months later, in the process suffering a horrific leg break.
After a year off, complex leg surgery and recuperation, Silva would return to fight Nick Diaz in 2015. But following the bout, he would test positive for anabolic steroids and be suspended for a year. Then in 2017 Anderson would once again be embroiled in yet another doping scandal, as he yet again tested positive. This time for anabolic steroids and a diuretic.
In this instance, it was determined that a contaminated dietary supplement had been the cause. And so Silva was handed a retroactive one-year suspension and was free to return to competition.
Brock Lesnar is the former UFC heavyweight champion and one of the most imposing men to ever compete in the sport. Building a name for himself in the world of professional wrestling. Lesnar was a huge crossover star that took the sport of MMA by storm.
At just four fights into his MMA career, Lesnar would win the UFC heavyweight title by defeating Randy Couture. He defended the title twice before losing to Cain Velasquez in October 2010. Returning to the UFC octagon a year later he would once again lose to Alistair Overeem.
Although he suffered consecutive defeats in the UFC, his biggest fight would be against the disease diverticulitis, a gastrointestinal condition that inflames the intestine and colon. A condition which Lesnar believes led to him losing his fights, saying that;
“In my mind and in my heart, I never lost to a foe. I never lost to an opponent. I lost to diverticulitis. That was my opponent that beat me,”Brock Lesnar – Espn June 16th 2016
Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt UFC 200
However, following his win over Mark Hunt at UFC 200, it was later disclosed that Brock had tested positive for clomiphene, a banned substance on the UFC’s anti-doping policy.
While not a steroid, the drug is commonly used to raise natural testosterone levels and also to counter the use of anabolic steroids.
As a result, Lesnar was banned for a year and fined $250,000. And at the time of writing some four years on, the former champion has not since competed in mixed martial arts.
Since the well-documented fall of women’s MMA pioneer Ronda Rousey. One woman’s name has been regularly mentioned as the best to ever do it, that of Cris Cyborg. Who since starting her career in 2005 Cris had only lost one of her eleven fights. Along the way, winning both the Invicta and Strikeforce Women’s featherweight titles.
Following her Strikeforce title defence in December 2011 against Hiroko Yamanaka. Post-fight she would go on to test positive for an anabolic steroid called Stanozolol. Leading to her being stripped of her title and leaving the promotion.
During her hearing in front of the California State Athletic Commission, Cyborg did not pull any punches. Fully owning up to making the mistake and asking for leniency.
But a year-long suspension from competition was upheld. In 2014 Cris would go on to win the UFC featherweight title. But the stain of being a drugs cheat has never gone away.
She lost her UFC title in December 2018 and the following year would make her Bellator debut. Where she would once again go one to win the promotions featherweight crown.
It’s just unfortunate that perhaps the greatest women’s fighter to ever compete has a black mark on her list of achievements. But unfortunately for her, its something which will never be forgotten.
Dan Henderson, known to Hendo by his fans. Is amongst one of the most beloved fighters in the sport. Known far and wide for being the guy that was knocking people out cold. Dan built a name for himself as one of the most exciting balls to the wall fighters in the sport.
The Olympian had competed for the US national team at both the 1992 and 1996 games in Greco Roman wrestling. And it wouldn’t be until 1997 at the age of twenty-six before he would have his first professional MMA fight. Today most fighters are sometimes already halfway through their career at a similar time, but not Hendo.
Logic and previous experience would tell us that Henderson should have only had a few more years left of active competition before retirement. But Dan, along with several other fighters of note had a little trick up their sleeve to squeeze a little more juice. Helping to extend their careers well past the normal cut off point.
The Now Infamous TRT Exemption
Using a procedure referred to as testosterone replacement therapy or TRT. Where synthetic testosterone – a banned substance classified as a steroid by anti-doping agencies like USADA. Is injected to elevate testosterone levels in the body.
Claiming that he, along with many other fighters suffered from a condition called hypogonadism. Hendo was able to compete with elevated levels right through the most destructive phase of his career.
This was the period where we saw him knocking out Wanderlei Silva in Pride. The future UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and MMA living legend Fedor Emelianenko. However, once TRT was finally banned in 2014, Hendo’s career began to take a turn for the worst.
As while it was banned at events regulated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Other events held overseas which the UFC would self regulate, still allowed some fighters to continue using the procedure.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir who won the belt from Tim Sylvia at UFC 48. Was one of a raft of fighters who back in the day made use of the TRT exemption. But it wasn’t his flirting with synthetic testosterone which got him in trouble this time around.
On March 19th 2016, Mir lost via KO to Mark Hunt in Brisbane Australia. One of a growing list of loses on the former champions resume. And at thirty-seven years of age and no doubt moving ever closer to the end of his long and eventful career.
An in-competition test was resampled using new techniques for screening previously taken older samples. Which discovered the existence of a long-term metabolite called dehydrochloromethyltestosterone. Steroid which is more commonly known as Turinabol that can be taken orally.
Frank was unceremoniously suspended from the sport for two years, which was backdated to the sample date. Meaning that at the time Mir had already passed the halfway point in the suspension. And would be eligible to fight later that same year.
However, the whole episode left a bad taste in the former champion’s mouth. Who then lobbied the UFC to prematurely terminate his contract. He would eventually find some success, being cut from the UFC and signing with Bellator MMA.
And while he got what he wanted in his contract negotiations. He would go on to fight and lose in his first fight to MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko.
El Nino Gilbert Melendez is the former WEC and Strikeforce lightweight champion. And is often touted as one of the best lightweights of all time. During his years outside the UFC, there was often debate about how good Melendez really was?
With another top lightweight Eddie Alvarez who at the time held the Bellator belt. The discussion raged as to who was the best non-UFC lightweight in the world?
Well, roll forward a few years and both fighters would eventually sign on the dotted line with the UFC. Setting up one of the most anticipated lightweight fights in many years. Which would eventually take place in Mexico City on June 13th, 2015 at UFC 188. But following the bout, a post-fight sample taken from Melendez came back positive for testosterone metabolites.
Statements at the time from both the UFC and the fighter confirmed the positive test. With the UFC handing down a year long suspension, backdated to the date of the fight.
While Gilbert was eager to stress he had not injected any substances and that it may have come from tainted supplements.
None the less, Melendez was added to an ever-growing list of champions in the sport who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
That offered them an advantage over their opponent inside the cage, while also putting their health and safety at risk. Gilbert’s career never recovered and to date, he has since lost his next three fights.
The UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may be the single most talented fighter to ever compete in the sport. Ask anyone and depending on the day and which way the wind is blowing and it’s a toss-up. But outside of his phenomenal performances inside the octagon, his life outside has been perhaps even more tumultuous.
Jones was stripped of his title following a hit and run, where he left behind an injured pregnant woman and made his escape. An incident which handed his championship to the man he had just beaten in Daniel Cormier. But the pair would be rescheduled to meet at the massive UFC 200 card. To see if Cormier or Jones was the rightful owner of the 205 lb title.
However, in the lead up to the event Jon Jones would test positive and be suspended by both the NSAC and USADA. Handing down a one-year suspension and being stripped of his Interim title. Making him the first fighter in history to be stripped of two UFC titles.
Jon Jones Has Title Stripped again
Following a successful return to competition in 2016, Jon would then face the current titleholder Daniel Cormier for the championship at UFC 214.
Jones would beat Cormier in emphatic fashion via head kick and punches. Signalling his successful return to the top of the division. While once again proving he was the best fighter in the world at 205 lbs?
However, just one month later both A and B samples taken from Jones tested positive for the steroid Turinabol. The result of which was the fight result being overturned and his title stripped for the third time. So outside of his accomplishments inside the cage, Jon also holds this far less desirable record in the sport.