, Port Arthur, Texas


June 14, 2014

David Estrada column: Fighters learn it doesn't pay to cheat

PORT ARTHUR — One bout, three fighters with performance enhancing drug issues effectively destroying it. This may sound bizarre, even impossible, but it actually happened in the UFC.

 This odd saga started this February. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort was deemed the top contender to face middleweight UFC champion Chris Weidman for the title belt in May. But the often PED-plagued Belfort shot himself in the foot again.  

 On February 27, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) disallowed boxers’ and mixed martial artists' use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Fighters used to be able to use TRT if granted an exemption from the NSAC but this change in course blocked any use of synthetic testosterone across the board. It was largely based on the fact that many fighters were abusing the exemption using more testosterone than allowed.

 Vitor Belfort was apparently found to be one of the fighters abusing the exemption. The results of a February 7 random drug test revealed his testosterone level exceeded the allowed range granted by the therapeutic use exemption (TUE).  

 Belfort was immediately pulled from the middleweight UFC title match against Chris Weidman and replaced by Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.  

 This is all a precursor to the bout mentioned at the beginning of this article.

 Really love him or really hate him, Chael Sonnen and Brazilian MMA legend Wanderlei Silva were on a collision course to face each other at UFC 175 this July in Las Vegas. The two weren’t just opposing coaches of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil which aired over the spring they were bitter rivals. Part of the fuel added to their fire were disparaging remarks made by the American, Sonnen who compared American children talking about technology and medicine with Brazilian kids who play in the mud.

 An actual altercation broke out between Sonnen and Wanderlei on the set which was the first such occurrence on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Needless to say Sonnen vs. Wanderlei in the Octagon was highly-anticipated.  

 But they messed up . .

 In May, Wanderlei Silva refused to take a random, surprise drug test at his training facility. Wanderlei claimed he did not submit to the test because the drug tester did not show him proper identification. Subsequently, he did not file for a license to fight in Nevada for the Sonnen bout and was pulled from the fighter.

 Who would then fight Chael Sonnen? Enter our old friend, Vitor Belfort. He was tabbed to take Wanderlei’s spot in the UFC 175 bout, granted he would be under the microscopic eyes and tested regularly by the NSAC for PEDs.  

 Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva then became Chael Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort, which kept the USA vs. Brazil rivalry. Everything worked out to some degree.

 But lo and behold the third fighter stumbled. It was announced on Tuesday that Chael Sonnen failed an NSAC drug test due to banned substances, Anastrozole and Clomiphene, being found in his system. Doctors state such drugs can enhance an athlete’s performance.  Sonnen admitted use of the drugs but claimed he took them to increase his chances of fertility and to ween himself off of TRT which he had previously had an exemption for and now banned.

 Chael Sonnen was then removed from the bout and it went a shocking step further. He announced his retirement from MMA altogether.

 Then stood Vitor Belfort without a date with less than a month before the prom. With Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida and other top middleweights already taken his fight was scrapped altogether.

 If there is one thing learned from this sad tale it’s that it does not pay to cheat. No one wins be it the fighters or fans.

 This week’s column is dedicated to the memory longtime Groves martial arts instructor Les Armentor who passed last Wednesday. I never trained under Les but I met him when I was a youngster while my little brother trained with him. Armentor touched many lives teaching the importance of discipline and honor — something countless martial artists and people use to this day.


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    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
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    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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From the Fieldhouse blog