The UFC End of the Year Drama
In a shocking twist of events, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is set to part ways with the UFC, ending their eight-year partnership as the official overseer of the promotion's anti-doping program. This announcement comes just as UFC superstar Conor McGregor re-enters the drug testing pool after a lengthy absence.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart, in a statement, revealed that talks for extending the partnership had been underway until they took an unexpected turn. Now, starting from January 1, 2024, the UFC's anti-doping program will no longer be under USADA's purview.
The crux of the issue lies in the drama surrounding Conor McGregor. Following a leg injury sustained in a fight against Dustin Poirier in 2021, McGregor temporarily left the anti-doping program. To make a return, he would need to undergo six months of testing, unless an exemption was granted. USADA insisted on sticking to the six-month rule to ensure fighters' long-term health and safety.
However, the relationship between USADA and the UFC soured over this matter, particularly due to UFC leaders' questioning of USADA's stance. This tension reached a point where the UFC decided to take a different direction, ending the partnership despite a previously productive contract renewal meeting in May 2023.
While USADA expressed disappointment for UFC athletes, the organization remains committed to upholding the rights of clean athletes until their contract's expiration on December 31, 2023.
The partnership between USADA and the UFC, which began in 2015, involved over 27,000 tests conducted across the UFC's roster during the eight-year span.
In another twist, due to a series of unfortunate events, the UFC 294 card experienced multiple changes. Charles Oliveira, originally set to headline the event, had to withdraw due to injury, making way for lightweight champion Islam Makhachev to face Alexander Volkanovski in the main event. Simultaneously, Kamaru Usman stepped in as a replacement for the injured Paulo Costa to face Khamzat Chimaev in the co-main event.
These last-minute switches have added a layer of unpredictability to the end-of-year UFC event, leaving fans and fighters alike with high expectations and plenty of excitement.