UFC prospect Grant Dawson still has to clear some hurdles before he can compete in the promotion’s home state.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission voted Wednesday to impose a six-month drug-testing period on Dawson before it will grant him a license to fight. Dawson, who has had a recurring issue with a banned substance, must be tested by USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, at least twice a month through June.
If he gets through that without issue, Dawson will be granted a temporary NSAC license on July 1. During the testing period, the NSAC will allow Dawson to compete in other jurisdictions if they clear him.
Dawson, a 25-year-old featherweight fighter, was provisionally suspended by USADA in November 2017 after testing positive for a long-term metabolite of the steroid oral Turinabol.
USADA cleared Dawson in December 2018 after an investigation turned up that it could not be determined when Dawson ingested the drug — and he might have even taken it before he was in the UFC and under the USADA program. The amount was so trace in Dawson’s system that it did not give him any performance-enhancing benefits and how long the metabolite stays in a person’s system in that very small amount is unknown.
The metabolite is still popping up — or pulsing — in Dawson’s drug-test results even now. The NSAC flagged those out-of-competition results when Dawson applied for a license to fight Chas Skelly at UFC 246 on Jan. 18, pulling Dawson from the fight pending a hearing.
The commission went through a similar process involving UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in 2018, when it refused to license him for UFC 232. That prompted the UFC to move the entire event to California, where Jones was cleared.
The NSAC did eventually grant a license to Jones in January 2019.
The commission did not license Dawson on Wednesday because commissioners felt he has not been tested as frequently as Jones and there was a belief that more data was needed. Dawson cannot test for the M3 long-term metabolite of 4-chloro-17β-hydroxy-17α-methylandrosta-1,4-dien-3-one (DHCMT) above 100 picograms per milliliter in any test during the next six months or he will not get his license.
USADA officials and doping experts testified Wednesday there is no evidence that Dawson has re-ingested the steroid, because the only metabolite that has shown up in his system is the long-term M3. If a short-term or medium-term metabolite was in Dawson’s system, it would indicate an ingestion more recently.
NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell III is seeking more information, saying determinations made by USADA and the UFC have no bearing on what Nevada decides.
“We have to be 100% positive that there has been no re-administration,” Marnell said. “That is our job. We can’t be partially clear. We can’t be hopeful. We have to be 100% certain.”
Dawson has already been tested twice by USADA in January and once in February, Marnell said. He will need to be tested at least twice in March, April, May and June before being granted the license.
The commission will hold another discussion about the matter in July, Marnell said, to determine how to move forward. There is an expectation that Dawson will have to continue with a twice-a-month testing program while under license.
Dawson (14-1) was rebooked to fight Skelly at UFC Norfolk next week, but Skelly withdrew due to injury. If the UFC chooses to keep Dawson on that card, the NSAC would not stand in the way, provided he is cleared by Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
Considered an up-and-comer in the 145-pound division, Dawson has won both of his UFC fights and is on a five-fight winning streak overall. The Nebraska native, who trains out of Glory MMA & Fitness in Missouri, is coming off a second-round submission win over Mike Trizano last May.