Since 2015, the MMA leader has maintained a partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which was implemented to ensure that the integrity of the sport is upheld. In testing for banned substances, USADA demands that athletes are available at any and all times.
That requirement has been heavily denounced in recent times, with UFC Welterweight Champion Usman slamming USADA for waking him at 5am for testing last week.
While he’s no longer visited by USADA agents having made the move to Asian promotion ONE Championship back in 2019, flyweight great Johnson has provided a different take than Usman, publicly supporting the organization — early wake-ups and all.
Unlike Usman, Johnson Welcomed Early Morning Tests
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Johnson was questioned about USADA’s policies and their decision to disrupt Usman’s sleep by Ariel Helwani, who’s been a vocal critic of how the organization completes its testing in the past.
In response, “Mighty Mouse” suggested that fighters need to stop complaining about testing times, citing his own experiences with USADA interactions as early as 3am during the backend of his UFC career.
“This whole USADA thing, they gotta stop with that — the fighters! For me, they caught me at the liquor store, there’s times I was training and I’m swimming, and I come up from my lap and she’s right there waiting to get my sample,” Johnson said. “For me, I never had a problem with USADA waking me up at 5am, 4am, 3am… It didn’t bother me, and I’ve got three kids, so I know how important sleep is. Don’t act like these guys — they’ve got one f*cking kid and they’re like, ‘Ah, you’re waking me up at 5am!’ Try three in your title defense reign, then come holla me.
“For me, you want my pee and blood? Take it, boom, go. I love USADA. I love that about them. But all fighters are like, ‘Ew, hate it.’ … Didn’t bother me one bit. I understand where you’re coming from, but for me, when it came to USADA, if they woke me up at 6am, there’s times that you could open the door and say, ‘Hey, I’mma finish sleeping. Sit right there and watch me sleep.’ You can do that,” Johnson added.
Johnson did acknowledge that some improvements could be made to the decision-making of those who choose when to test athletes — something featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski, as well as Usman, will no doubt agree with having been woken the night before he fought Max Holloway in Abu Dhabi.
However, the ONE Championship standout insisted that fighters make it a bigger deal than it is, noting that it’s all part of keeping the sport they compete in clean.
“Obviously, they could have some common courtesy. That’s all dependent on the collector himself or herself, right?” Johnson noted. “The way she (tester) told me it works, is they’ll send the message to her like, ‘We need to get Demetrious Johnson tested this week. You pick a day, you choose.’ … People make it out to be worse than it is… It’s part of keeping this sport clean.”
Usman isn’t the only fighter to speak out in recent times, with middleweight contender Derek Brunson also taking issue with USADA. His grievance sat with the whereabouts policy, which sees athletes hit with violations if they have not updated their location and can not be accessed for testing.
Do you agree with Demetrious Johnson’s stand?