First, it was Vitor Belfort's elevated levels of testosterone in February. Next came Wanderlei Silva's refusal to be tested in May. It all came to a climax only Shakespeare could pen when Chael Sonnen tested positive for human growth hormone, among a few other banned substances, in June—UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy had seen enough.
"They randomly test three dudes and all three fail," Kennedy first told ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "All in my weight class. All dudes I could potentially be fighting. I went from just being vocal about drug use, to saying to myself, 'I have to make a stand about this.'"
Kennedy's set to duke it out with former Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero at UFC 178 in Las Vegas. He won't be taking any chances this time around—he wants random testing leading up to his middleweight clash.
Though Kennedy isn't necessarily accusing Romero of cheating the sport, the recipient of the Army's Bronze Star Medal with the "V" device isn't so sure about any of the other fighters currently competing under the Zuffa banner.
"The first time [the NSAC] randomly tested people, everybody failed," Kennedy told Okamoto. "Imagine what that looks like across 450 athletes. Are we talking about 60 or 70 percent? I really believe it's somewhere in that range of fighters that are using."
Kennedy went to Twitter to reiterate what his request was truly all about
This isn't the first time that a high-profile UFC fighter has publicly requested extensive drug testing before a fight. Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre first requested testing by VADA—the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association—leading up to his bout with current UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Jon Jones also went ahead and requested random testing prior to his championship fight with Glover Teixeira at UFC 172.
Though the UFC has already agreed to open up the checkbook to fund the testing—which comes out to a whopping $45,000 per fight—Kennedy originally offered to pay for his half of the bill.
"Whatever it takes to ensure we are moving forward toward having a clean sport, which we are nowhere near right now," Kennedy told Okamoto. "Something has to change."
Currently ranked sixth in the UFC's middleweight division, a decisive victory over an up-and-coming fighter in No. 11 Yoel Romero could put Kennedy a few inches closer to a highly coveted opportunity at UFC gold. A decisive victory against performance-enhancing drugs at UFC 178, and all future events, could inch Kennedy and the UFC a bit closer to a highly coveted opportunity to wield credibility and transparency.
Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University's student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.
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