After struggling through a 2014 which saw lagging pay-per-view sales, UFC president Dana White admitted he wasn’t sad to see last year go. The planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion was hoping for a fresh start in 2015, and on paper they were set to make a big splash in the opening months.
The UFC was so motivated to solidify their stranglehold on the sport that they endorsed the mantra, “The Time Is Now.” They hosted a massive press conference featuring their biggest superstars with the four words plastered everywhere. They bombarded Twitter with #TheTimeIsNow seemingly ever other minute.
While their intentions were good, the results weren’t.
UFC 182 was the company’s first PPV show of the year. Courtesy of an impromptu brawl inside the MGM Grand lobby, it featured possibly the most anticipated light heavyweight title tilt in MMA history between champion Jon Jones (pictured) and Daniel Cormier.
According to reports, the event garnered between 740,000-820,000 buys. Not necessarily the box office numbers a shootout of this caliber would have done during MMA’s heyday, but certainly better than what the UFC did for most of their paid shows last year.
Three days after Jones posted a lopsided unanimous decision victory to collect his eighth straight title defense, cementing is spot at the greatest 205-pounder to ever grace the octagon, it was revealed he flunked his random, out-of-competition pre-fight drug test for cocaine.
Jones immediately went to rehab, then wasn’t in rehab just 12 hours later. Blah, blah, blah… Now arguably the game’s most unstoppable force is known as a street drug user.
Fast-forward to Tuesday, only three days after former middleweight king Anderson Silva made his triumphant return from a broken shin that kept him on the pine for 13 months. Silva’s victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 (which might be overturned to a no contest) is now tarnished, as well as his legacy, after he tested positive for two performance-enhancing drugs – Drostanolone, an anabolic steroid, and Androsterone, a form of endogenous testosterone.
Oh, and the UFC 183 failed drug exams didn’t stop there. Diaz was popped for a third time in his career for marijuana.
That’s three out of four main event fighters that flunked their drug screening through only two UFC events.
The Time Is Now … to clean up the sport before it’s too late.