UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has been forced to defend himself against repeated accusations that he used anabolic steroids. Nate Diaz was the first to accuse McGregor of steroid use during an obscenity-filled exchange at the UFC 196 pre-fight press conference. Since then, Diaz’s friends and trainer have doubled down and repeat the accusations.
“Everybody’s on steroids. The whole UFC. Everybody. And you…” Diaz pointed to McGregor.
McGregor quickly rejected the accusations.
“Me?! What are you talking about, me?! I’m not on no steroids! What the fuck you talking about? Your two teammates were on steroids. Your boys. The Scrap Pack. Remember that? Did you know they were taking that stuff? Did you know they were taking that stuff? Didja?”
McGregor told ESPN sportswriter Brett Okamato that not only has he never failed a drug test for steroids, he is also a long-time anti-steroid advocate who criticizes mixed martial arts fighters who are caught using steroids.
“The most tested fighter in 2015 I was. I am very big against steroids. I have lambasted everyone that has been caught for steroids. My previous opponents have been caught and I butchered them. The fact that (Diaz’s) two teammates (Jake Shields & Gilbert Melendez) took steroids and were caught. I pay no attention to it. It was ridiculous.”
While it may be true that the use of steroids is pervasive in the UFC, Diaz didn’t have any evidence to support his specific allegations against McGregor. The only thing Diaz and his camp were able to use as “proof” of steroid use was the alleged rapid weight gain by McGregor that has allowed him to move up from the 145-pound featherweight category to the 170-pound welterweight category.
GLORY kickboxing champion Joe Schilling, a long-time friend of Diaz, told Joe O’Regan of BloodyElbow.com that steroid use by McGregor was likely given his massive weight gain of “about seventy pounds”.
“Coming from nowhere? Dude it didn’t come from nowhere,” Schilling said. “Look at him (McGregor), he’s put on about seventy pounds. Very interesting. His arms are fucking huge, look at him.”
Richie Perez, the long time boxing trainer for Diaz, suggested that anabolic steroids were a logical explanation for McGregor’s transition from fighting at 145-pounds (featherweight) to fighting at 170-pounds (welterweight) in a span of three months.
Perez also pointed out that McGregor was originally scheduled to fight Rafael Dos Anjos at 155-pounds (lightweight) for UFC 196. The weight class changed to welterweight when Diaz stepped in as a last minute replacement when Dos Anjos withdrew due to an injury.
“So if you think about it, he was focusing on training at 155,” Perez said on the February 28, 2016 episode of Submission Radio. “He only had two weeks to go. And all of a sudden he’s going to jump to 170? So no, there’s something going on. But still, I mean, we’re still going to fight and that’s all there is to it”.
McGregor may or may not be using steroids. But it is obvious that Diaz, Schilling and Perez are full of shit when they want to point to McGregor’s weight gain as proof of steroid use.
It is well known that McGregor’s “walk around weight” is somewhere between 170 and 180 pounds outside of competition. McGregor has a reputation in the UFC as a master of weight manipulation who is known for huge short-term weight loss to “make weight” for the featherweight category.
McGregor regularly drops 25 to 30 pounds in the weeks prior to a bout in order to weigh-in at 145 pounds the day before the fight. McGregor doesn’t just drop the weight quickly. His recomposition and rehydration between weigh-in and fight-time is nothing short of miraculous. He has been known to regain the 25 to 30 pounds by the time he steps into the ring some 24 hours later. Anabolic steroid and muscle gain have nothing to do with this. It is all about manipulating water weight, hydration levels, glycogen depletion and glycogen supercompensation.
McGregor reportedly weighed 174 pounds when he knocked out Jose Aldo on December 12, 2015 according to UFC featherweight fighter Diego Sanchez. This meant McGregor gained 29 pounds in less than a day.
McGregor was already back to his normal “walk around weight” in mid-December. Rather than having to gain any amount of weight to fight Dos Anjos at 155 pounds or Diaz at 170 pounds, McGregor only needed to lose weight in either scenario.
It was never a matter of how much body weight McGregor needed to gain. It was always a matter of how much weight he needed to lose. It would have been a weight loss of around 20 pounds to fight Dos Anjos and about 5 pounds to fight Diaz.
The arguments from the Diaz camp of massive weight gain are dishonest and misleading.
McGregor’s nutritionist George Lockhardt certainly has a secret formula for rapid weight loss and recomposition but it likely has nothing to do with anabolic steroids.