Mixed martial arts is a truly fantastic sport in every sense of the word, but sometimes, it isn’t all that innocent. The fighters who compete are incredible and all show tremendous heart just by stepping inside the cage, but not all of them have squeaky clean records.
The temptation of using certain ‘forbidden’ methods in order to get ahead isn’t just restricted to MMA, because it’s a theme that runs through all different kinds of sports. Unfortunately, once you’ve been found ‘guilty’ so to speak by the fans, it’s difficult to shed that kind of reputation. It’s certainly doable, but hardcore fans will always bring it up when discussing a fighter’s legacy.
We aren’t here to suggest that these five UFC fighters are seasoned cheaters as that wouldn’t be at all accurate. Instead, we want to analyse things from an objective standpoint – without coming across as the guys who just like to bash the fighters who have more talent in their little finger than we do in our entire body.
As you can see by the above clip Yoel Romero has had his fair share of incidents over the years, but it’s the Tim Kennedy fight that we really want to focus on. The Soldier of God was in a lot of trouble in that bout towards the end of Round 2, and he received way more time than he should’ve been allowed in order to recover. He went on to win via TKO, and that certainly wasn’t the last time he was embroiled in a scandal.
Santiago Ponzinibbio has been able to defeat Mike Perry and Neil Magny in the wake of his UFC Glasgow triumph, but you have to question whether or not he’d be in the position he is today if it wasn’t for ‘eye poke gate’. We are, of course, referring to the multitude of eye pokes that Santiago struck Gunnar Nelson with before knocking him out in the main event up in Scotland.
Travis Browne’s attitude in the aftermath of his controversial win over Matt Mitrione served as confirmation for most fans that he had a game plan with his eye pokes during that fight, as it played a huge role in him eventually picking up the victory. Browne’s career certainly hasn’t gone to plan since then, but it’s one of the memories most fans will have of him long after he retires.
Brock Lesnar tested positive for clomiphene in the aftermath of his unanimous decision victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200, and that’s really all there is to this one. Lesnar was outed as a cheat by Hunt and heavily criticised by many, and yet, he may well be walking straight into another title shot by the time 2019 rolls around.
In late 2001, Josh Barnett tested positive for banned substances in the wake of his win over Bobby Hoffman. Then, four months later, he defeated Randy Couture to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship – but was stripped of the title for, once again, failing a drug test. Sure, he’s a former champ, but what will his lasting legacy in this sport actually be?