In the wake of another performance enhancing drug scandal, the UFC was forced to suspend one of its founding pillars: Stephan Bonnar. Bonnar’s significance within the UFC boils down to one event — his epic and paradigm-shifting fight against fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 1” cast-mate Forrest Griffin.
This is the second time Bonnar has tested positive for PEDs, forcing the UFC to hand down a year suspension to the — now retired — UFC veteran. What’s interesting is the UFC’s lack of public comment on Bonnar’s involvement in this scandal. It’s led me to believe that there might be favoritism between the UFC and certain fighters (specifically the original cast of “The Ultimate Fighter”).
All right, I’ll just ask the question that everyone is thinking.
Does UFC President Dana White favor the original cast of “The Ultimate Fighter”?
I only ask because out of the 16 fighters that premiered on the show back in 2005, half of them have obtained significant success (and FAVOR) with the UFC.
Stephan Bonnar — Setting aside the fact that his fight with Forrest Griffin revolutionized the sport of mixed martial arts, Bonnar has continually come to the aid of the UFC (most notably taking a fight against Anderson Silva for UFC 153). As a result he has enjoyed success both on camera as a fighter and analyst.
Kenny Florian — With three championship fights and one metal to show for it, Florian is a lot like the 1990s Buffalo Bills — always a bridesmaid, never a bride. The UFC has been willing to give Kenny opportunity after opportunity. Now with his recent retirement, Florian is thriving as an on-air personality for MMA.
Forrest Griffin — Again, we know the historic fight with Bonnar is always a trump card — Griffin has “company man” written all over him (probably metaphorically and literally). Griffin’s success culminated with a light heavyweight championship belt. Forrest continues to enjoy the spoils of his “The Ultimate Fighter 1” fraternity and will always be one of Dana’s favorites.
Josh Koscheck — The UFC once fired all of the American Kickboxing Academy, thanks to Jon Fitch — all except for Josh Koscheck. Koscheck has enjoyed great success at welterweight but, like Florian, has yet to taste gold. Furthermore, Josh’s personality, for some, is less than desirable, including continuous run-ins with UFC president White. But Koscheck is still kicking around and aiming for another title run.
Chris Leben — Chris has been messed up more times than Michael Vick in an Eagles uniform. Even with all his personal problems, Leben’s still contending and relevant in the UFC middleweight division. To his credit, Leben has continuously stepped up and filled in for the UFC. Gotta love the guy’s willingness to take a punch and give one right back!
Nate Quarry — Quarry enjoyed a steady career culminating in a title fight against Rich Franklin. Nate was the consummate professional and was a “company man” through and through. Unfortunately, reconstructive facial surgery derailed an otherwise respectable career.
Diego Sanchez — Where to begin? The nightmare turned dream has been on one wild, UFC ride. Sanchez is a monster in the ring and continues to display “Fight of the Night” performances for the UFC. His brilliance in the ring is only matched by his absurdity out of it. Yet, the UFC is willing to put up with any kind of Diego as long as he’s true to form in the Octagon.
Mike Swick — Mike’s career has been far from perfect. Even with a long layoff, the UFC continues to give Swick the time needed to recover and continue a promising career. With a knockout of the night win against DeMarcus Johnson, Swick seems to be back on track.
It could be coincidental. Who knows, maybe every time the UFC’s in a jam, those particular fighters just happen to walk by their phones when Uncle Dana is calling. My “Sherlock Holmes” suspicion tells me it has more to do with their contribution, particularly on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and their willingness to be a “company man,” that has elevated them to VIP status.
Of course this is all speculation, I’m curious what’s your take? Let me know at @scottlevesque.
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.