Forrest Griffin's barn-burner of a fight with Stephan Bonnar back in 2005 may have done more than any other bout in history to propel the UFC into the mainstream. The two men went back and forth for 15 minutes in a display of heart and skill that couldn't be denied. The fight made Spike television believers in the power of MMA. The rest is history.
Fast forward seven years—Griffin again left it all in the cage, this time in a rubber match with UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz. He won a close fight, but it turns out he got an assist from more than just the judges. The power of modern medical science also helped propel Griffin to victory.
As originally reported by Larry Pepe at Pro MMA Radio, and confirmed by Bleacher Report with Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer, Griffin was approved for a Therapeutic Use Exemption, allowing him to use Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for his bout with Ortiz.
TRT, a divisive treatment that has split the MMA community into two very opinionated camps, allows older fighters to train and compete with the same amount of testosterone in their system as their younger counterparts. Some of the UFC's top aging stars have undergone TRT, looking to bring their bodies' natural levels of testosterone back to the levels they enjoyed in their 20s. Top contenders like Dan Henderson (41) and Chael Sonnen (35) have both undergone the procedure.
Some opponents of the treatment are calling it little more than a masking agent for steroid abuse. And it's true that past steroid use can cause the body to stop producing testosterone naturally. But so can problems with the pituitary gland and extended periods of cutting weight for sports like wrestling and mixed martial arts.
The biggest culprit, of course, is the natural aging process.
Personally, I'm not opposed to the use of TRT. Unfortunately, more than 100,000 high school graduates every year have experimented with steroids. I don't think it's fair to eliminate these young men from the sport because of a youthful mistake.
If monitored properly, and Kizer says Griffin's testosterone levels were tested both before and after the match with Ortiz, TRT can be used fairly. The procedure doesn't, and shouldn't, necessarily provide a fighter with more testosterone than the average man. It simply boosts their levels to the upward levels of human potential.
We want our athletes to be at their best. It's too important not to be, especially when modern science can help a fighter train more effectively. That only helps us as fans and a sport.
Exceptional fighters should be doing whatever it takes to extend their careers. As a fighter, I expect nothing less from Forrest Griffin. Good for him.