In the wake of the recommendation as well as in anticipation of Belfort's application, the Nevada commission plans to review its TRT policy in a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, raising the possibility it could decide to eliminate testosterone exemptions. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta responded, saying the promoter would continue to defer to the judgment of athletic commissions with regard to TRT.
But, although the state athletic commissions and not the UFC ultimately grant exemptions, the MMA promotional giant has at times played a role in leading fighters down a path to TRT. Belfort volunteered that it was a "UFC doctor" who started his testosterone regimen in 2011 -- similar to a 2012 claim by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who said a UFC doctor referred him to an age-management specialist. Sources also told "Outside the Lines" that the UFC encouraged heavyweight Roy "Big Country" Nelson to see a doctor about TRT, although he eventually opted not to after having lab work done in 2010. Nelson declined multiple interview requests for this story.
"Outside the Lines" also obtained a 2010 letter to Dr. Jeff Davidson, a UFC medical consultant and former Nevada commission ringside doctor, from a Las Vegas physician thanking him for his referral of MMA fighter Todd Duffee. The doctor prescribed Testosterone Cypionate for the then 24-year-old, whose "extreme fatigue" was diagnosed as caused by "secondary hypogonadism."
Also, a doctor for Chael Sonnen wrote Davidson regarding the middleweight's TRT regime in 2010 -- a year before there is a record of his having formally applied with a state regulator for an exemption. Dr. Mark Czarnecki apologized for the handwritten letter, noting "apparently Dana needs the information ASAP." "Dana" is presumed to be UFC president White, and the letter details Sonnen's use of testosterone since a 2008 diagnosis of hypogonadism.
In a later instance, anti-aging specialist Dr. John Pierce wrote in 2012 advising Davidson and Greg Hendrick, then director of event operations for UFC, that fighter Frank Mir had been diagnosed with hypogonadism and had already started on a regimen of Testosterone Cypionate. That was 10 weeks before Pierce wrote the Nevada commission about the diagnosis and start of care, according to commission records obtained by "Outside the Lines."
Belfort revealed that he also has been under the care of Pierce, although Belfort said Pierce is not the "UFC doctor" who offered his initial diagnosis. Records also identify Pierce as the doctor who referred and evaluated the lab work for Nelson in 2010.
Asked when he began testosterone-replacement therapy, Belfort initially told "Outside the Lines" it was before a loss in early 2011 to then middleweight champion Anderson Silva, then corrected himself and said it was after the fight. "It was one of the doctors from UFC," he said, speaking of his low testosterone diagnosis. "He asked me to do a bunch of tests. ... He said, 'Man, you don't have the energy.'
"I said, 'Yeah.'
"He said, 'Yeah, 'cause you are having an issue.' So then we started doing some treatment."