Top ranked UFC title contender fails drug test

A top UFC title contender seems to have hit a serious bump in the road with a recently announced drug test failure.

By: Zane Simon | 1 month ago
Top ranked UFC title contender fails drug test
UFC title contender Mayra Bueno Silva in 2018. - Reinaldo Reginaldo IMAGO/Fotoarena

Back in July, the women’s bantamweight division got a badly needed wake-up call. The class that had been ruled over by Amanda Nunes for the bulk of the last half decade seemed bereft of fresh title challengers in the wake of her departure, with a battle between Julianna Pena and Raquel Pennington seeming the most likely bout to decide whose head would next wear the crown.

That made Mayra Bueno Silva’s win over Holly Holm in the main event of their ESPN card feel like a bit of a revelation. Here was a woman, competing against a former champion, at the highest levels of the sport, and she put together a dominant win. How quickly could we get her in a fight with Pena for the belt?

Not that quickly, apparently.

UFC title contender Mayra Bueno Silva reveals drug test failure

In a recent post to her Instagram account, Mayra Bueno Silva delivered an unfortunate announcement. The Brazilian had failed a drug test in connection with her fight against Holly Holm and likely faces at least a temporary suspension.

“To all my fans, it is with deep regret that I have to announce I failed a drug test that I took the week of my fight against Holly Holm. I want to begin by saying I have never in my life taken a substance to enhance my ability in or outside the cage. I have tested positive for a substance that is consistent with the prescription medication I take for my ADHD. I have been dealing with this disorder my entire life and it affects me in a multitude of ways.

“I have provided a plethora of documents and explanations to USADA and the Nevada State Commission detailing the disorder, the effects of the disorder on my daily life and my decision making in the ingestion of the prescription medicine. I am fully cooperating with USADA, the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC to make sure that all information is available and I fully acknowledge the presence of the substance in my system. I discontinued this medication at the beginning of fight week, like I always have in the past. So while it appeared in a small amount in my system, I am told by experts that it would not have an effect on my in-competition performance at that level.

“Please before you make any judgements understand that I have been dealing with this my whole life and I am devastated that this has happened in my career. I look forward to coming to a resolution and putting this behind me. I look forward to fighting again for the best organization in the world. I am the next champion and I am ready to fight!”

Fortunately for fans of ‘Sheetara’ this kind of failed drug test is unlikely to result in her sitting on the sidelines for too much time. But, it might just be enough to keep her from fighting for the title next. It’s also unclear at this time whether the failed drug test will result in her most recent victory being overturned—something that could derail her title shot entirely.

A similar case

Mayra Bueno Silva isn’t the first fighter to fail a drug test for ADHD meds inside the UFC. Kevin Lee faced a similar problem back in 2021, when he tested positive for Adderall surrounding his loss to Daniel Rodriguez at UFC on ESPN: Barboza vs. Chikadze. In Lee’s case, there was no discussion of overturning his bout, since he lost. However, Lee was suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and fined $19,526.

Lee explained at the time why he didn’t apply for a ‘Theraputic Use Exemption’ for his medication, something it seems Bueno Silva also failed to do.

“It wouldn’t have been an issue, but I got a little arrogant in it,” Lee said in an MMA Hour interview. “I thought that I would be fine without it, and that it just would get out of my system much faster. But I think not cutting as much weight – I should have applied for the TUE. I’m still kind of kicking myself in the ass over it because it’s a legit prescription, it’s a legit diagnosis and I think I just went about it in an unprofessional way to get that done.”

Hopefully Bueno Silva won’t lose out too heavily based on what, by all accounts, doesn’t seem like it was any kind of performance enhancement for her fight. The bantamweight division badly needs a contender of her caliber in the running as soon as possible.

Join the new Bloody Elbow

Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Karim Zidan. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.

Share this story

About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories