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Should Anderson Silva Have Used TRT to Strengthen His Bones?

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Silva in Pain at UFC 168

At a less than ripe age of 38, Anderson “The Spider” Silva went into a rematch with a primed 29 year old athlete by the name of Chris Weidman at UFC 168 this weekend.

Silva suffered what many are calling a “freak accident” in the ring on Saturday night, when his Fibula and Tibia bones snapped in half when his kick was checked by Weidman, rendering him totally unable to continue the fight and requiring immediate emergency surgery.

This obviously doesn’t seem like big news for any seasoned MMA fan or professional, but one thing we haven’t really looked at is the fact that Anderson Silva was one of the few athletes who was not using TRT for therapeutic or other unspecified purposes.  Certainly TRT would be a boost to an athletes performance in many respects but let’s look at one thing in particular.  Bone density.

In a former article on bone crushing power we looked at bone remodeling and the life cycle of bone growth through out an individual’s life.  According to the research for that article we found that around age 40 the process of bone remodeling begins to slow down.  This results in more brittle bones.  Given Silva was already 38 during the fight, his bone remodeling may have begun to slow, which made him more susceptible to this sort of injury.

Another possibility to consider may have been an unknown illness (one that had onset with age) or perhaps some form of malnutrition.

While this has happened to other fighters before, the reason we suspect something significant had changed was the fact it had never happened to Silva.  He’s been a resilient Muay Thai and BJJ expert for many years and his bones should have been well conditioned for this sort of punishment.  Why all the sudden should a simple kick check result in a dramatic fracture?

Could it have been a freak accident?  Sure… but it might also have been prevented had Silva been on some hormone replacement therapy to strengthen his bones.

Yes, people are against it… especially when it comes to professional athletics, but the facts are that there is a distinct disadvantage for an individual in their late 30’s (who may very well have already begun to reduce production of testosterone naturally) when going up against a fighter in their late 20’s.  Is it fair?  Well that depends on your perspective.

However, if Dana White is willing to say that Vitor Belfort should be allowed to use TRT through a Therapeutic Use Exemption in his upcoming fight with Chris Weidman, then Silva should have been able to do the same.  Vitor himself is just 36 years old so he does have a slight age advantage, and he has been known to embellish in his use of TRT.

TRT is known to both increase muscle mass and improve bone resilience for individuals taking it therapeutically.  Perhaps, if it hadn’t already been done, Silva could have checked his levels and seen if there would have been any benefit to getting a TUE for the fight.

At the very least, even if he hadn’t won, he might have prevented such a gruesome injury.

What are your thoughts?  Would TRT have made a difference for Anderson Silva?  And if so, should he have been allowed, or even encouraged to use it (given his age)?

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Luca Rajabi
Luca has been passionate about martial arts and eastern philosophies since childhood. As an athlete, inventor and entrepreneur Luca founded SciFighting on the principal lessons learned from his life experience "fighting" to preserve his health and fitness. Although born with inherently poor and inconsistent health he pushed forward to learn as much as he could about the sciences of technology, medicine and mental health. Years of study, working with physicians and combined analysis finally began to bare fruit by his early twenties. Starting with Fencing, cross training and body building then moving to Boxing, Western Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiujitsu, Eskrima and an eclectic assortment of self defense techniques. Luca's core philosophy is that to win a battle every fighter must balance their mental and physical health. Luca has said that "With well developed technique, conditioning and mental focus a sound strategy will most often win over brute strength alone." It is in this spirit that he passionately advocates for the "Science of Fighting".
  • JameisJ

    Absolute joke of a “science” article. Unfollowed.

    The only way an athlete gets a TUE is by showing through lab results that they had low T. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Anderson was actually suffering from low testosterone.

  • Some people have questioned the use of a TUE for any reason except the most extreme cases of T deficiency. Yet what many of them may not be aware of is the fact that TUE’s are granted for MANY more reasons than just the ratio of free and available Testosterone to Estrogen in the bloodstream. Depression, Energy Levels, Erectile Dysfunction, just to name a few. If you aren’t an MD and you don’t have any real sources or scientific evidence to provide in a rebuttal then just be frank about the obvious message, which is a prejudice against the use of hormone therapy. It has a bad rap because it’s often abused but in many professional’s opinions it is under utilized in favor of far more complex drugs that are more expensive and come with a plethora of side effects. Also the baselines used on T/E ratio tests are constantly scrutinized as one person’s normal isn’t another’s. For example, look at RBC levels. They can be naturally high in one person and their body has adapted to the fact that their blood has a higher ratio of red blood cells to other substances versus that of say another individual. You can’t just draw a line in the sand and say that “every” human being on the planet must be at or below 52 parts per deciliter or imminent stroke is likely. We just don’t know for sure. A true expert will admit their lack of knowledge rather than boast about the absolutes of their reasoning.