If there's one question Luke Rockhold can't escape in the lead up to his fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8, it's about his opponent's usage of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
While Belfort has done his best to deflect questions about his usage of the controversial treatment that boosts testosterone levels in its recipients, Rockhold is under no such sequester when he's asked about the subject.
Rockhold is no fan of TRT usage or the fact that Belfort, who was suspended in 2006 after testing positive for steroids, is allowed to prescribe to the treatment during the training camps leading up to his fights.
"I think it's crap, I'm not going to lie about it. I've said that before," Rockhold told Bleacher Report. "I don't think he should be cleared for TRT—he's a steroid user in the past and his body transformation it's just unheard of. I've seen guys on TRT and they don't look like Vitor. His transformation from when he fought Anderson (Silva) to what he is now...he looks like a completely different human being. It just doesn't look natural, doesn't look right.
"I have a hard time believing he's under the legal limits for TRT. I believe he's far exceeding that."
UFC President Dana White has spoken out recently regarding his own feelings about TRT abuse by fighters leading into their bouts. His belief is that while they may test within the legal limits on fight night, their testosterone levels could be through the roof during a training camp and then brought back down to a normal level to make sure no test receives a red flag.
Since that time, White has implemented in-camp testing—paid for by the UFC—to ensure that any fighter on TRT is within the legal limits at all times. While it hasn't been publicized by the promotion, the assumption is that Belfort has been tested throughout his training camp leading up to the fight with Rockhold in Brazil.
No matter how much testing is done, Rockhold isn't buying Belfort's usage of TRT as being completely legal and within the limits.
"If you look at Vitor Belfort, look at him on the microphone—he can't even control his testosterone on the microphone when he goes in there," Rockhold stated. "When he fought Jon Jones he looked like a mutant. He just doesn't look natural, doesn't look like a regular human being. He loses his cool on the mic, he's not talking straight and he starts rambling about stuff that nobody understands."
If there is one advantage to gain from the public knowledge that Belfort is using TRT, it's the fact that Rockhold also understands and can prepare for that going into the fight. If Belfort is bigger, stronger and faster because of TRT, Rockhold knows he just needs to be one step ahead of the game when they meet on Saturday night.
He's also fully aware that there is a blueprint to beat Belfort—now it's just a matter of executing it to perfection.
"It makes me focus harder, makes me work harder. He's going to have that explosive strength and speed off the bat, but that's Vitor. He's always had that. It might be a little more than usual I guess, but I'll be prepared for it. I'm looking to break him as soon as possible. I'm going to put it on him, I'm going to stalk him," Rockhold said. "There's a recipe to beat Vitor Belfort. I don't think many people have seen the recipe to beat me yet."
If Rockhold can put those ingredients together, he could be the first middleweight not named Anderson Silva to put a loss on Belfort's record at 185-pounds. A victory would almost certainly move him into position to receive a title shot in his second UFC fight, but he knows getting through Belfort is all that matters for now.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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