UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has been drug tested for the first time this year, he revealed on Twitter on Monday.
The Irishman posted the following image from his home in Dublin, in which he suggested “an army of scientists” turned up to take samples:
The random appearance from testers is a glimpse into the stringent doping regulations that have been implemented of late after a number of high-profile fighters had failed tests before the change in guidelines.
In recent times, UFC has sought to rectify the issue by introducing more hard-line practices which fall in line with the practices of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
As Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter noted earlier this month, there seems to have been a major crackdown from the UFC already in 2016, with plenty of tests undertaken this year:
In the first 21 days of 2016, USADA has conducted 120 random tests of UFC athletes. They're coming to getcha.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) January 21, 2016
According to Martin Domin of the MailOnline, last year McGregor was tested more than any other athlete in the sport, alongside his opponent at UFC 194, Jose Aldo, and former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey; the trio were tested eight times in total in 2015.
The test for McGregor comes in the build-up to his bout with lightweight king Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 197 on March 5.
It’s a fight that promises to be the biggest of the Irishman’s career, as he seeks to become the first competitor in the UFC to hold two titles in two different weight classes simultaneously. Domin wrote that Dos Anjos has actually provided four samples to the USADA already in 2016.
The pair came head-to-head for the first time earlier this month at a promotional press conference. As we can see here, once again, McGregor was box office entertainment:
The rigorous testing process has already caught some fighters out. Indeed, middleweight Yoel Romero, who was on the undercard of UFC 194, was the most recent, testing positive for a banned substance when providing an out-of-competition sample, as confirmed by the organisation's official website.
It's encouraging to see such transparency when it comes to regulating the issue. The sport of MMA is reaching a wider global audience with each passing day, but as it continues to try to break down barriers, the image of its fighters is crucial.