Ed Soares, who runs Black House MMA in Gardena, Calif., told MMAjunkie a pair of positive tests from gym regulars is an isolated incident and also took issue with MMA observers who implied a link between their formal promotional homes and the failures.
“It’s not fair, because let’s put how many other people were from that situation that fought clean,” he said. “It’s not what it looks like.”
Middleweight Kevin Casey and featherweight Brian Ortega both tested positive for the steroid drostanolone following bouts at UFC 175 and UFC on FOX 12, respectively. Both train out of Black House, and both are former champions in the RFA, where Soares acts as president.
Soares said Ortega, who was flagged by the California State Athletic Commission that oversaw UFC on FOX 12, works out of Black House for “10 percent” of his fight training, while Casey, who was popped by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, does “75 percent.”
“They did it, and they have to deal with it,” he said of the fighters.
While Soares expressed concern about the positive tests, he also was at a loss as to what concrete steps he could take to address the issue. He said he plans to talk to Black House members about PEDs and added he’s already reached out to Ortega, whom he believes used the steroid as a shortcut to shedding weight, as Casey admitted following his positive test.
“I think Brian was supposed to fight in Brazil, and they canceled a week before the fight, and he was super bummed and gained weight,” Soares said, “and (the UFC) issued him a fight four or five weeks before, and he maybe was overweight and tried to figure something out.
“I don’t know what these things do, but he figured out something to cut weight. I didn’t get in to an in-depth talk; I was more or less comforting him because he was just so down.”
Soares sternly denied there is a systemic problem at the gym and pointed to the number of RFA fighters who’ve never been flagged for banned substances. In his time in the MMA business as a manager and promoter, he said he’s only dealt with three instances of drug test failures.
He said a case involving Rafael Cavalcante, whom he called a friend but not a member of Black House, was botched by the CSAC. The commission upheld the fighter’s one-year suspension stemming from a positive test for stanozolol following his win over Mike Kyle in the now-defunct Strikeforce.
“Out of all the times of managing guys, I think we’ve only had this happen three times, and it just happened to be two in a one month period,” said Soares.
Despite the positive tests, the manager and promoter said he will not expel Casey or Ortega from the gym.
“People make mistakes, and one thing I told him was that I’m bummed that he did it, but I’m not going to turn my back on him,” Soares said. “Hopefully he learned from this process.”