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Chad Mendes Will Not Appeal Two Year Suspension, says Topical Skin Cream to Blame for Failed Test

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News broke last week that the USADA was suspending Chad “Money” Mendes for two years after he tested positive for the growth hormone known as GHRP-6 in an out of competition urinary analysis conducted on May 17. GHRP-6 is thought to enhance the effects of certain steroids when used in during a cycle. This week Mendes spoke to CBS Sacramento’s “The Drive” and acknowledged that he violated the new drug testing policy. Although “Money” will not file an appeal, he still stood firm that he had not knowingly taken any type of banned substance. He will not be eligible to return to the Octagon until June 10, 2018, two years from the date he was handed the initial provisional suspension which is in compliance with the new policy. Mendes will be 33 years old at the time the suspension is complete.

Mendes is claiming that the substance got into his system via a skin care cream he was using to treat a psoriasis disease that he has had his entire life.

“I have it all over my shins, my scalp is covered in it, I have it all over my ears, I get a big patch of it on my side. I’ve had it since I can even remember. I remember as a little kid I’d try to get on the wrestling mat and people would be like, ‘You have a giant ringworm, I’m not wrestling you.’ It’s something I’ve been dealing with my entire life. Even people I’m trying to grapple with on the mat sometimes get freaked out because it gets super red and inflamed and it looks just God awful…They think it’s contagious and they don’t want to touch me. My scalp, I can’t wear a black shirt; it looks like it’s snowing all over my shoulders. It’s pretty disgusting and embarrassing. My fiancee hates it. It’s itchy all the damn time….This was one of the cases that it had something in it that was on the USADA banned list. My situation was just kinda bad luck I feel,” Mendes stated in the interview. “Ultimately I broke the rules. Did I use it? Of course. I didn’t try going to USADA and making up some B.S. story and trying to lie my way out of it. After testing positive I went back and looked through all my supplements….the only other thing I started using at the time was the lotion, so I started looking and reading all the ingredients, and sure enough on there, GHRP-6 was one of the damn ingredients.”

Throughout the years Mendes claims to have tried many different products to try to address the disease. The type of psoriasis he has is commonly referred to as chronic stationary psoriasis, or plaque-like psoriasis, which is not contagious, but can be fatal as the extreme inflammation and exfoliation of the skin associated with this form of the disease can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate temperature and perform essential barrier functions.

“USADA is coming to the sport, and they’ve been doing a great job. They’re catching guys that are taking steroids and getting in there and fighting while taking them. It’s something that I feel has needed to happen a long time ago, everyone’s seeing what’s going on. It’s just crappy on my part. I didn’t have a fight scheduled, I wasn’t training. I told the media, I told the UFC after my last fight I was going to take this entire year off. Anyone that’s been following me would know that I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into my new business, and just putting all my time and energy into that…I wouldn’t have any reason to try and take anything. I wasn’t preparing for anyone; I didn’t have anything on the horizon. That just wouldn’t make sense. All in all that doesn’t really matter, that was a substance that was on the banned list and I used it. It is what it is, I guess.”

In a case like this, public perception could go one of two ways. Either you believe that an athlete did not knowingly take any type of performance enhancing drug, they simply made a mistake and were caught in the crossfire of the new stringent drug testing policy, or you could choose to think that an athlete is just trying to find any excuse possible as to why they would have failed the test, thus appearing to be less culpable. In this case, both assumptions are moot points because the drug was listed as an ingredient on the product and it is ultimately the athlete who is responsible for what they put in (or on) their bodies. The language in Article 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 of the new policy clearly states:

The language in Article 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 of the new policy clearly states:

2.2.1 It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body and that no Prohibited Method is Used. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, Fault, negligence or knowing Use on the Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an AntiDoping Policy Violation for Use of a Prohibited Substance or a Prohibited Method.

2.2.2 The success or failure of the Use or Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method is not material. It is sufficient that the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method was Used or Attempted to be Used for an Anti-Doping Policy Violation to be committed.

When the subject of a possible retirement due to the lengthy suspension came up, Mendes was honest with “The Drive” and himself in saying that he knows he will be back in the cage when he is again eligible to compete.

“A lot of my family members have been asking me the same thing. I’m gonna be honest. It’s definitely something that’s crossed my mind, but I don’t know,” Mendes admitted. “I’ve been a competitor my entire life. I started wrestling at 5 years old and have competed all the way up til now. It’s what I know. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. Even if I were to say right now, ‘I’m done,’ I guarantee when 33 comes around and I’m getting that suspension taken off the competitiveness inside me is gonna take over and I’m gonna want to get back in there and fight…It is tough. This is a brutal sport and the older I get, the more I’m realizing it. I don’t want to be 60 years old in a wheelchair and not able to talk because I’m out chasing money getting punched in the face,” he continued. “But at the same time, I do love to compete and it’s something I absolutely love to do. We’ll see. I’ve just got to be smart.”

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Fight Announcements

Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum Official for UFC 224

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Brazils second UFC event of the new year added another middleweight contest. UFC officials announced, Kelvin Gastelum will face Jacare Souza in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 224.

The inevitable main card booking of Souza comes after headlining UFC on Fox 27. The Brazilian fighter is 3-2 in his last 5. His recent contests only look worrisome in comparison to the entirety of his long career. Prior to his past 5, Souza held an eight fight win streak. In that period of time, he defeated Gegard Mousasi, Derek Brunson (for the first time), and Chris Camozzi twice. Despite the drama words and numbers on screens create, his recent record is nothing to have concern over. A split decision loss to Yoel Romero in 2015, and a 2017 TKO loss to division champion, Robert Whittaker is manageable. Defeating Derek Brunson in the opening round of their main event bout kept him deep in the milky opaque froth that is the middleweight title picture. Clearly his position in that photo lies upon the upcoming match up.

Looking ahead for Jacare Souza, assuming he wins, becomes interesting, just as it devastating for Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum is 3-1 since returning to middleweight, technically his record sits at 2-1 and 1 No Contest. He tested positive for marijuana in a sample collected the night of his bout against Vitor Belfort by USADA in March of 2017. Originally, the outcome of the bout read the way viewers remembered it; a 1st rd. TKO in favor of Gastelum. On May 7th, 2017, the win was officially overturned and changed to a No Contest. He also received a 90 day suspension, adjusted to the day of the failed test (March 11th).

In the aftermath of the failed test, his scheduled contest against Anderson Silva. He then split his next two contests, losing to Chris Weidman and defeating Michael Bisping emphatically, yet under odd circumstances. A win for Gastelum certainly muddies the waters of middleweight contenders, while adding to a good 185 lb. resume.

UFC 224 takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12th, 2018 at the Jeunesse Arena. A battle betwen Brazilians is set for the date as Lyoto Machida takes on Vitor Belfort. Other featured bouts include; Aleksei Oleynik vs. Junior Albini*, Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson*, Alberto Mina vs. Ramazan Emeev, and Davi Ramos vs. Nick Hein*.

*Bouts reportedly set for UFC 224

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Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”

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In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the metro.uk, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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Announcement

UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

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UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by MMAFighting.com and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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