Lately, MMA fans and journalists have debated the likelihood of Conor McGregor using PEDs to aid his recovery from an ankle injury.
Conor removed himself from the “testing pool,” which allows him to be on the active fighting roster but also subjects him to the USADA requirements for regular (or irregular) random drug testing.
Despite the allegations against him, it seems likely that removing himself from the testing pool was because of how it restricts movement.
USADA must know of your whereabouts (using an app) and any movements during the testing pool phase, which doesn’t align so well with a fighter’s global traveling business activities at the level of Conor McGregor.
In any case, it raises an interesting question: Are PEDs commonplace in the UFC, and how often are fighters tested?
I’ve put together this list of UFC PED use statistics for 2022 to answer.
Table of Contents
USADA Athlete Test History
I obtained the list of test history on UFC athletes from USADA in 2022 to compile some interesting data sets.
First, look at the number of tests performed on active UFC fighters within 2022. Here are the top 15:
|Fighter||No. of Tests|
|Ariane Cristina Carnelossi||20|
|Paulo Henrique Costa||20|
|Manuel P Gomes||16|
|Israel M Adesanya||12|
|William A Knight||12|
What immediately stands out is how Jiri Prochazka has had as much as three times more PED tests by USADA than any other UFC fighter.
I’m still unsure if it’s a typo, but these are the official figures for 2022.
There are several other famous names on the list that you’d expect due to their fighting frequency. Such as Neil Magny, Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas, and Israel Adesanya.
It’s good to see the inclusion of several UFC weight classes among the tested names on this list.
Other names on the list show these fighters are in the testing pool – meaning they can fight – that have been tested regularly despite not taking place in any (or few) fights.
Fighters like Henry Cejudo and Jorge Masvidal fit that bill.
Despite the current USADA controversy, Conor McGregor doesn’t appear anywhere within the test history for 2022.
Current UFC Champions PED Tests In 2022
I decided to pick out the current champions (as of December 2022) in the UFC to compare how often they are tested for PEDs within the year:
|Fighter||No. of Tests|
|Alex S Pereira||9|
|Francisco N Figueiredo Jr||5|
It seems pretty typical for UFC fighters who have earned championship belt status to have eight PED tests per year by USADA.
That’s slightly less than once per month.
Complete Data Set
I’ve put together a complete data table of the tests USADA performed on UFC fighters during 2022:
The original data is sourced from USADA's UFC Athlete Test History.
PED Use In UFC Sanctions In 2022
USADA performed 3,832 PED tests on 749 UFC fighters in 2022 alone, resulting in six violations.
A 4-year epidemiological analysis (2015-2019) of doping in the UFC found that 8.7% of athletes committed ARVS (anti-doping rule violations).
When I compared the number of fighters tested against the number of violations found for 2022, the percentage was 0.80%.
Perhaps it's a sign that PED use is dropping significantly, or maybe athletes are smarter and more informed about scheduling their pharmaceuticals.
Of all tests performed, only six fighters received sanctions in 2022. Those names are:
|Green, Bobby||Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)||6-Month Suspension||10/07/2022|
|Zaleski dos Santos, Elizeu||Ostarine||1-Year Suspension||09/22/2022|
|Johns, Miles||Adderall||Public Warning||07/21/2022|
|Evans-Smith, Ashlee||Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)||14-Month Suspension||05/16/2022|
|Blanchfield, Erin||Spironolactone||Public Warning||05/13/2022|
|Lazishvili, Zviad||Clomiphene||10-Month Suspension||02/23/2022|
Bobby Green sticks out as a key name on that list. "King" fought Islam Makhachev back in February 2022 and lost. Several months later, he appeared on this list of sanctions due to a violation of DHEA use.
Perhaps Bobby's loss to Islam had something to do with this PED use, but that is purely speculation. I hope to see Bobby Green back in the UFC after fulfilling his suspension and entertaining the fans with more of his Philly shell fighting style.
History of PED Use In UFC
It's becoming a fascinating era for the UFC, whereby natural fighters are praised, and those that use artificial enhancements are often shunned by the MMA community.
The biggest culprits of this are the likes of T.J. Dillashaw, who faced a two-year ban at the height of his career.
And even Chael Sonnen, the charismatic legend of the sport, had two violations in 2010 and 2014, respectively. His final two-year ban was enough to finish his career, as the UFC ended their contract with Chael shortly after.
The future is bright for the UFC if they continue to discourage the abuse of enhancing drugs and keep the viewership alive for new generations of fans.
See more about viewership in our UFC viewership statistics.