This past week, at a UFC Fight Night 36 pre-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White made some rather callous remarks regarding Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino Santos, her physical appearance and whether or not the fighter and current “Invicta” featherweight champion, and former “Strikeforce” 145 pound champion, is using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
As White remarked to the attending reporters:
“She’s done so many drugs her head is this big; does anyone really think she fights clean?”
In way of record, it should be noted that Cyborg failed a post-fight drug test (stanozolol) in December of 2011. Santos was subsequently stripped of her Strikeforce belt and sustained a one year suspension from the sport. As such, White might have grounds for musing as to the fighter’s use of PEDs.
That said, and in Cyborg’s defense, she has admitted the mistake, paid for it and having fought three times since her suspension (2 MMA / 1 Kickboxing), she’s passed the drug tests given to her. More to the point, Santos’s management came out last week and stated unequivocally, that the UFC could test Cyborg at any time and in any manner that they wished (blood, urine, hair), and that Santos would pass the test with flying colors. In short, Cyborg’s management has stipulated that their fighter is clean.
On the heels of that, Cyborg herself has chosen to speak up.
In an interview with Combate Santos commented as follows:
"Nobody has the right to accuse you without evidence. I have explained many times that the doping episode was an error during the weight loss for that fight, and it is our mistake and we evolved. Just because we are not perfect, we have no right to judge anyone.
Two years have passed since then, I have served my suspension, I resumed my career, I returned with the help of champion Tito Ortiz and George Prajin, who extended their hand when everyone else turned away from me.
And, finally, fought three times since, and was tested in two of the last three fights. Can test me today, tomorrow or whenever they want. I'm with a clear conscience. I cannot be judged for the rest of my life for a mistake I made two years ago. I do not want to remember my whole career by the only mistake I made."
On her first point Santos is correct. White shouldn’t be accusing her of being on PEDs without having any evidence. More to the point, it’s hard to see how White could possibly have any evidence of her use, as he’s not her doctor, coach or even a close personal friend of the fighter. All White is doing (here), which is what he does on a good number of subjects, is simply speculating, and without any or all of the facts at hand, or known to him.
White might have his suspicions pertaining to Cyborg, but they are only that, suspicions, and nothing more. Of course, the irony of White’s musings would be that many MMA fans have their own suspicions regarding a number of fighters signed to the UFC's rosters. Indeed and to the point, even former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has raised the issue of a PED problem in the senior circuit.
Beyond that, it’s hypocritical of White to negatively comment on Cyborg and regardless of the reason, and for the simple fact that he tried to sign her last year. To most fans, that’s apt not to make much sense. On the one hand he wants to sign her, but on the other he wants to wax about how she’s not a clean fighter. For many, that’s just Alice in Wonderland logic.
Further, Cyborg has paid her penalty and like a number of other fighters who have tested positive for PEDs in the past and are now fighting in the UFC, she deserves the right to put it behind her and move on. Fair is fair. If a male fighter can test positive for PEDs, be suspended and come back to the fold, then why not Cyborg? Again, fair is fair.
As to Santos’s the size of Cyborg’s head, that’s a subject that White should probably stay away from. First, he has no place in criticizing a fighter’s physical appearance; male or female. It’s simply tacky, classless and unprofessional. On this subject, White should stick to the age old adage of ‘if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, then don’t say anything at all.’
However and maybe more to the point, in drawing attention to the size of Cyborg's head, White leaves himself open to rebuttal jokes regarding his own (shaven one).
In reflecting upon White’s Cyborg comments and taking into consideration some of the things that he’s said about fighters over the years, ones such as GSP, Rory MacDonald, Jon Jones, Ben Askren, and Jon Fitch, just to name a few, one really has to wonder whether or not White actually likes MMA fighters or just the revenue MMA generates.
One thing is most certainly true, the UFC’s president could well benefit from a course in public relations and a serious upgrade in his people skills.