Islam Makhachev's manager has explained why the UFC lightweight champion had needle marks on his arm amid scandal over allegations that he cheated in his win over Alexander Volkanovski.
The Russian fighter claimed the No.1 pound-for-pound ranking when he scraped a decision victory against Volkanovski, the featherweight champion, in Perth on Saturday night. But Volkanovski's teammate Dan Hooker brought the result into question when he claimed that the fighter had illegally used an IV drip to rehydrate after the pair weighed in.
Volkanovski was moving up from 145lb to face Makhachev, who is known to be a particularly large lightweight. There was a massive size difference, and despite rumours that the Russian was struggling to make the weight and his need to use the towel during weigh-ins, he tipped the scales at exactly 155lb.
Hooker took to Twitter to make his opinions known, first posting a cryptic message that read "Dumb c*** thinks he can fly to Australia hire a nurse to give him an I.V and we won’t find out. Cheating dog." He then sent a series of tweets saying "USADA doing f*** all," "Prove me wrong. Bet cha can’t," "He doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t win," and "Islam is a cheat."
Makhachev's manager Rizvan Magomedov then denied the allegations in a statement to MMA Junkie, branding Hooker "salty" and insisting that he was simply looking to garner interest. “We all know this is completely BS," Magomedov said. "The guy [Hooker] is a loser. He’s salty and just looking for attention, and that’s it.”
When Magomedov took to his own social media to add a further statement, saying "Jealous losers speeding lies, eventually this is all you can do," one fan asked to explain a mark on Makhachev's arm, to which Magomedov insisted that it was from a commission blood test. "Mandatory blood test by AUS commission," he wrote. "Wednesday morning right before media and photo shoot. Ask Hooker find the nurse with commission, she can confirm."
During an interview with The MMA Hour on Monday, filmed before Hooker's tweets but released after, Volkanovski joked that Makhachev was able to gain over 25lb within the day after the weigh-in by using an IV. He joked that you can get as high as 83kg, or 183lb, with the help of an IV, before admitting that he was merely taking "a little shot at him" and moving on.
IV infusions and injections of more than 50ml per six-hour period have been banned in the UFC since USADA were implemented into the promotion in 2015. An exception is only for those fighters who received an IV in the course of "hospital admissions, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations" under the anti-doping policy.
The last UFC fighter to be sanctioned for using an IV was middleweight Paulo Costa, who was suspended for six months for the prohibited use of an infusion twice in 2017. Costa was facing a two-year ban, which is the sanction all fighters face for IV use, but had his punishment reduced for providing "substantial assistance" to USADA.