When considering the most influential figures in the MMA, the names of reigning UFC heavyweight world champion Jon Jones and former middleweight champion Anderson Silva promptly spring to mind.
Nevertheless, there’s an ongoing discourse on whether they should be granted the title of GOAT. This is due to their histories of testing positive for various banned PEDs.
Former PRIDE and Strikeforce titleholder Dan Henderson stands among those questioning the GOAT status of combatants like Silva and Jones.
Henderson recently made an appearance on the JAXXON podcast alongside MMA icon Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Henderson was asked whether former two-time champion Israel Adesanya has accomplished enough in his career to surpass Silva as the middleweight division’s all time great.
Henderson expressed: “I think he did a lot. I don’t think he did as much as Anderson Silva did, but he also didn’t test positive like Anderson Silva did. He tested positive twice, I think. I don’t know when the first one was, but one was when he was coming back after breaking his leg.”
“On his comeback, he might have been doing some stuff, but I think he tested positive one other time also. It puts an asterisk on him cause you never know how long he was doing it.”
When asked if the same skepticism applies to Jon Jones, Henderson stated: “In my mind, yeah. It would be tough to [name Jon Jones the GOAT of MMA]. It’d be like Lance Armstrong in cycling, you know what I mean. And Jon Jones tested positive more than once, though some of it was recreational.”
Before joining the UFC in 2007, Henderson established himself in the PRIDE FC arena. The Japan-based promotion was infamous for its leniency toward PED use. However, Henderson maintains that he abstained from using PEDs following his representation of USA Wrestling in the Olympic Games.
Henderson said: “I came from two Olympics and USA Wrestling always had no advance notice dr*g testing, kinda like what the UFC has had over the last few years. I came from that so when I went to PRIDE and when they hand you a paper cup with some Japanese words on it, they said go ahead and go to the bathroom. Bring it back when you’re done. You just set it on the table not even sealed or anything. It’s 100% different than the way the regulations are with USADA and WADA.”
While Henderson asserts his clean record regarding PEDs in his competitive career, he was among the first boxers to use TRT. It was eventually banned in 2014 due to misuse by combatants like Chael Sonnen.
He said: “I was one of the first to start [TRT]. I asked them. I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do that. That’s like steroids isn’t it?’ I found out more about it. It’s just replacing your hormones.”
“I asked the athletic commission and they said yeah, so I think I was the first one to open that can of worms, but then everyone else abused it. F*cked it up for the rest of us.”
In October, the UFC declared the termination of its eight-year partnership with the USADA. Discussing this abrupt decision, Henderson speculated that the UFC likely aimed to have greater control over its competitors’ eligibility to compete.
He said: “I think the [UFC] didn’t have enough control to overlook certain things. I don’t know. I have no idea why, but I think it’s not a good look to do that. Having a third party doing that for you is a lot better than doing it in-house.”