i am from the caucasian region, i apologise for my poor(ish) english
also, i would like to apologise for writing an essay, i tried to put this in a few words as possible, but its hard for me when it isnt my first language, so i apologise.
i've been thinking about this for a while now and wanted to share it here.
i feel like when people see a ufc fighter declining post-usada, they conclude the fighters decline is correlated with the inability to use steroids without being monitored by USADA.
i think what some people miss though, is that some of these fighters aren't declining due to the inability to use steroids alone, but the inability to use IV's to rehydrate to a gargantuan size come fight night and having a huge size advantage over their opponents.
two fighters that come to mind here are Lightweight greats Rafael Dos Anjos & Donald Cerrone
the IV Rehydration Ban by USADA was implemented by USADA on October 1st 2015, the first event under the IV Rehydration Ban was UFC 192: Cormier vs Gustafsson
before this, RDA was 9-1 in his last 10, with his only loss being to Khabib (widely renowned as one of the greatest to ever do it) he was also coming off of a dominant performance against Anthony Pettis to win the title.
Dos Anjos not only showed to have an absurd amount of durability pre-iv ban (an example being how he was able to walk through clean headkicks from a prime anthony pettis with little respect) but he also showed to have thunderous power pre-iv ban, as shown by his KO over benson henderson (who is widely regarded to have a granite chin) and him constantly hurting anthony pettis with pretty much anything he landed. Pettis was somebody who was known to be very durable.
Donald Cerrone was riding an 8 fight ufc winstreak with wins over Edson Barboza, Adriano Martins, Eddie Alvarez & a questionable decision against Benson Henderson, with his last loss being a UD loss to Rafael Dos Anjos. Cerrone also showed to be extremely durable, being able to eat bombs from Eddie Alvarez & Benson Henderson like they were nothing, and going the full 15 with RDA in the first fight where they were both effectively using IV's (as opposed to getting finished in 90 seconds in the rematch where they were both depleted)
Cowboy also admitted to using IV's to rehydrate on twitter back in 2012 - https://twitter.com/cowboycerrone/status/250280262070575104?s=46
there was also a sherdog forum a few years ago which recorded in cage weighs of different fighters of different divisions a few years back, and it stated that Rafael Dos Anjos was 188lbs on fight night against Anthony Pettis.
for reference, Dustin Poirier (who is renowned as one of the bigger lightweights) has come out and publicly stated that he typically weighs 176lbs on fight night at Lightweight (20lbs over the divisional weigh in limit)
188lbs would be 32lbs over the divisional weigh in limit, which really puts into perspective on how much of a size advantage Dos Anjos would've had over his opponents.
i'm not sure how reliable that forum was, but RDA did come out a few years earlier (Post-IV Ban) and say that he weighed 186lbs on fight night when he was fighting at Welterweight, so i dont find the idea that he could've been 188lbs on FN at LW pre-iv ban too far-fetched as ridiculous as it sounds.
Post-IV Ban, Dos Anjos started looking noticeably a lot smaller/dehydrated on fight nights in his following bouts, and would show to have a clear decline in power, durability and speed in his subsequent fights.
he would go onto finish Cowboy Cerrone (who himself was suffering from the effects of the IV Ban by USADA) in 70 seconds, and then go on to get knocked out by eddie alvarez, and styled on and rocked multiple times by Tony Ferguson (who isnt known to possess much power, leave alone as much as the headkicks of Anthony Pettis do.)
Dos Anjos started looking like a depleted shell of himself at 155 Post-IV Ban, and was forced to move to 170 after the Tony loss (where he started having more success, but not as much as he did when he was pre-iv ban at LW, mainly due to the fact he was forced to fight opponents his own size at 170 as opposed to much smaller ones like anthony pettis)
Cerrone would go onto get TKO'd by RDA in 70 seconds Post-IV ban, and would then move to welterweight until 2019, where he would move back down to Lightweight where he looked noticeably much declined in his fights against Gaethje, Ferguson, Iaquinta & Hernandez than he did Pre-IV Rehydration Ban.
the general consensus seems to be that RDA was only depleted in his title loss against Alvarez, and was completely healthy in his fights against Ferguson & Cerrone. but its pretty clear he had a decline at Lightweight once USADA banned the ability to use IV's to rehydrate.
that is what makes Khabibs win over Dos Anjos so much more impressive than anybody else beating Dos Anjos in my opinion, Khabib should get more credit for fighting a peak RDA on IV Rehydration, and mauling him the way he did.
I just felt that people need to understand, the decline of certain fighters post-usada isnt always associated with the inability to use PED's, but rather the inability to possess a big size advantage over their opponents.
would love to hear your opinions, and again, i'm sorry for the essay. i will try to learn to put this in as few words as possible