The UFC Issued A Gag Order To Daniel Cormier Prior To UFC 216

The UFC and Mark Hunt have been at odds ever since the Super Samoan’s now-infamous fight against a juiced up Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 and his subsequent lawsuit against both Lesnar and the organisation.

Since then, a war of words and actions has been waged by both sides and relations reached an all-time low recently after Hunt made comments about his health.

In response, the UFC pulled him from his scheduled headline fight against Marcin Tybura on November 19. Part of the statement that the promotion released in order to justify their decision reads:

“Athlete health and safety is of the utmost importance to the organisation and it would never knowingly schedule an athlete complaining of health issues for a fight.”

That seems fair enough. After all, who could argue with a fight promotion taking active steps to ensure the health of its athletes?

With that in mind, it’s curious to hear Daniel Cormier’s comments regarding Kevin Lee’s most recent lightweight bout with Tony Ferguson.

Cormier and Joe Rogan were commentating at UFC 216 when they noticed a red bump on Lee’s chest. As soon as he noticed it, Rogan began speculating that it could be staphylococcus (staph).

“So we’re on air, right, and Rogan goes ‘is that staph?’” Cormier said in a recent episode of Talk & Talker.

According to Cormier, he was immediately advised by someone in the UFC not to mention it:

“Somebody in my ear – I don’t know who it is – goes ‘don’t say nothing.’ And I was like ‘What the hell? Do I address this, or do I not say anything?’ So I was like ‘it is.’ I couldn’t help myself, I go ‘it is staph.’ Because it’s big and red, and raised up.”

After the fight, Lee admitted that it was indeed suffering from a staph infection.

It was hard not to notice the big, red mark on Lee’s chest

DC went on to explain how the antibiotics that Lee could have taken would ultimately have affected his overall performance inside the Octagon.

“The issue is you can take antibiotics to get better. But again, antibiotics, it’s the devil when you’re getting ready for a fight because it fu*ks with your cardio,” Cormier explained. “You don’t really have much of an option in terms of feeling better when you have staph.”

“In training, you go ‘oh my goodness, what is this? It might me staph.’ You stop, you get on antibiotics, and you get better. When you’re a week from the biggest fight of your career, you go ‘oh sh*t, this is staph, but I gotta keep training.’ You don’t have the option to just shut it down.”

Cormier said that former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold had the same problem during his fight with Chris Weidman at UFC 194.

“Even Luke Rockhold, when he fought Chris Weidman a while back, he had staph, and he took the antibiotics, and by the third round, he was completely gassed,” Cormier said. “We’re just lucky he got him out of there in the fourth because he was completely done because of the antibiotics.”

“For Kevin Lee, he had no option because he couldn’t not fight. And you saw it, I mean between the second and third round, he told his corner, he goes ‘I’m just so tired.’”

Despite the staph, Lee fought well in the early rounds

Ultimately, he succumbed to a triangle choke

“It’s sad because he didn’t get a fair shake, but the reality is, Tony Ferguson was on his game. And it was just getting worse because Tony was just getting better as the fight was going on.”

It’s interesting to see how the UFC squares its statement that it would ‘never knowingly schedule an athlete complaining of health issues for a fight’ with its decision to let Lee fight at UFC 216.

I hope it had nothing to do with the fact that PPV numbers in 2017 have been abysmal and they were worried about losing another headline fight just a few days before it was due to take place.

If so, that wouldn’t appear to be treating athlete health and safety with ‘the utmost importance’…