As always and in the wake of another Vitor Belfort victory, there is much discussion about TRT and its use. Many claim it to be an unfair advantage, while others argue that it’s acceptable under regulation and as long as it falls within sanctioned levels.
However, is TRT the only performance enhancer which could be considered? To the point, is money a performance enhancer?
The reality of MMA and in particular The UFC is that the better a fighter does and the more popular he / she becomes the more money they make. The more money they make, the more money they can invest into their training. The better the training becomes, the better the performances become and so the cycle continues.
Georges St-Pierre is one of the best examples of money as a performance advantage. Rush has become a millionaire many times over, since becoming Welterweight Champion and is renowned for sparing no expense on his training. He has the cash and determination to hop on plane and fly anywhere, to train with anyone he wants. He has the cash to have others hop on planes and come to him, to train him. He has all the money in the world for sparring partners, trainers, massage and physiotherapists and any other performance amenity that he wishes, including bringing him his meals.
As Nick Diaz said, by virtually all other fighters’ standards he’s “pampered”. Not in the sense that he has it easy per se, but rather that his accrued wealth had made it easier for him to train and prepare for fights, by virtue of the fact that he can easily afford all of these amenities and to be honest, it’s a fair enough statement / observation.
So, the question becomes, does a fighter like a GSP or an Anderson Silva, John Jones or any of the fighters who are truly doing well financially within The UFC with their win money, PPV money, endorsement money and all the other ways they have, can and do make money, do they have a completely unfair advantage over less prosperous or well-to-do fighters?
For example, the ability to train with Roger Gracie prior to a fight vs. training with your local BJJ coach and all because you have the financial means to make it happen…is a performance enhancing advantage. Arguably, a few weeks of a daily dose of Roger Gracie must easily be worth the equivalent of a few vials of testosterone. Of course, the testosterone is probably more readily available, cheaper and easier to get to than Roger. That is if you don’t have the cash. However, if you have the cash it’s completely doable.
Personally, I believe there is a clear and significant advantage in money as a performance enhancer. However, unlike TRT, accrued wealth cannot be regulated or banned. The inability to do that means that any time a fighter with considerably less money fights an opponent who has considerably more money or is very well-off, that fighter is going to be competing at a disadvantage, at least in terms of their ability to prepare for the fight.
In a world of performance enhancements, cash is king.