Bellator MMA champion Johnny Eblen blasts Gordon Ryan for pro-PED stance

On a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Bellator MMA champion Johnny Eblen criticized Gordon Ryan for his pro-PED stance.

Current Bellator MMA middleweight champion Johnny Eblen is staunchly opposed to steroids and PEDs in sports – a view that puts him in direct opposition to multiple-time ADCC champion and current Who’s Number One heavyweight champion Gordon Ryan.

Considered by many to be the world’s top pound-for-pound submission grappler, Ryan recently celebrated the UFC parting ways with USADA, arguing that an injection of PEDs back into the UFC would only make for a more entertaining product.

On Wednesday, Eblen appeared on The MMA Hour and criticized Ryan for his pro-steroid stance.

The crux of Eblen’s argument is that PED usage by top athletes will influence and encourage children to also use PEDs, ultimately leading to long-term health issues.

“I just don’t think it’s a good way to promote athletes to do this type of stuff, because you have to understand athletes have a big influence on kids and young athletes, and even college athletes. I just don’t think it’s a route that is sustainable for the long run, for people’s health, and just for sport. One big thing that really pops up to me is when [Michael] Bisping lost an eye to frickin’ Vitor Belfort, he was ‘TRT Vitor.’ Does that happen if he’s not on f****** TRT, I don’t know.

“But instances like that can happen because guys are juiced to the gills, and I just don’t agree — I mean, don’t get me wrong, the guy’s amazing at what he does. Gordon is the best of the best. I just don’t agree with him on a certain point when it comes to PEDs. I’m just anti-PED, I just don’t think it’s good for humans, especially for kids to be doing that s***.

“You might have the influence to have a kid do it, and that might ruin their life in the long run. They might end up a train wreck later on, so that’s just kind of my viewpoint on it, I don’t agree with it, and I’m pretty much anti-PED and just stay away from that s***.”

An undefeated veteran of 14 professional fights and Bellator’s middleweight titleholder since June 2022, Eblen admits that some organizations choose not to test for PEDs for the sake of entertainment. 

But he says the long-term health ramifications of prolonged steroid use are simply not worth it.

“A lot of promotions don’t like to test because they just want the guys to perform and, you know, cool, they can do that, but what are they going to look like when they’re 60 years old? What are their bodies going to be like? Because they’re probably doing it now to be an entertainer, but you’re a human first, you’re an entertainer second.

“Maybe you’re an entertainer for 20 years or 15 years, but what’s the rest of your life going to look like? So I’m here trying to root for humanity to be in a better place regardless of where you’re at in your life, whether you’re an entertainer, an old guy, a young guy. Just don’t take s*** that’s going to have repercussions later.”

Gordon Ryan, PEDs, and health issues

For his part, Ryan hasn’t shied away from his use of PEDs, arguing that because they are not banned in competitions like ADCC or Who’s Number One, he’s under no obligation to remain a clean athlete. 

Ryan is also a 2018 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds and Pans champion. The IBJJF expressly prohibits athletes from using PEDs.

After a dominant 2022 that saw him claim two gold medals at the ADCC World Championships, the New Wave representative has spent the majority of 2023 plagued by health issues. Shortly after pulling out of a much-anticipated fourth match against rival Felipe Pena due to a stomach illness early in the year, Ryan announced an indefinite leave of absence from competition due to stomach problems. 

The 28-year-old black belt returned to competition for one match in October, handily defeating Patrick Gaudio at WNO. He was next booked against Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa and Mason Fowler but was again forced to withdraw due to injury.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

Ben Coate has 1184 posts and counting. See all posts by Ben Coate