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Parisyan: 'Every fighter I know takes pain medication like it's M&Ms' — Does MMA have a drug problem?

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Last year, it looked like once-promising welterweight Karo Parisyan had been permanently exiled from the UFC after withdrawing from another fight at the last minute. UFC president Dana White tweeted that Parisyan would never fight in the UFC again.

Between pulling out of fights against Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Dustin Hazelett, Parisyan won a split decision against Dong-Hyun Kim only to have the result turned into a no contest after he tested positive for painkillers. 

Now, nearly 10 months later, cooler heads have prevailed and Parisyan has signed on to fight Dennis Hallman at UFC 123 at The Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit.

Parisyan spoke to Sherdog.com about his battle with anxiety, panic attacks and painkillers 

"My issues had to do with my anxiety problems and panic attacks," said Parisyan. "Painkillers were thrown out there, but that wasn't it. People made these accusations because I'd been popped for medication (months before). I'd taken two pain pills the morning of my fight for a torn hamstring and didn't think much of it."

Parisyan said he alerted an NSAC official that he'd taken the medication after the bout when he was asked for a urine sample. Parisyan said he was told it wouldn't be an issue as long as he had documentation from his physician.

Parisyan didn't have a prescription for the ingested pills -- later identified as Percocet -- which the fighter said had been given to him by a friend. Thinking the pills were the same as what he'd been prescribed, Parisyan said he was shocked to get the call a month later telling him that he'd be disciplined for it.

"Every fighter I know takes pain medication like it's M&Ms," said Parisyan. "I was the unlucky one who only took it the day of the fight without even thinking about it."

Now, if fighters are taking pain medication like they're candy and, as Hallman said, 50 percent of fighters are on steroids, who in this sport isn't hopped up on something?

What I do know is that in and around 2007, many more fighters were getting popped for violations. Now, as state governments are being forced to scale back budgets, athletic commissions are being hit. Nevada has the ability to test out of season but almost never does due to budgetary concerns.

Now, this isn't just about Parisyan. It's the scope of the sport as a whole. Parisyan is just a small part of that. What I don't want to see is this sport turn into professional wrestling where you have people dying of enlarged hearts or pill overdoses at young ages. That more than anything has harmed pro-wrestling's image. If MMA starts suffering some of the drug-related deaths pro-wrestling has, that is not going to be good at all. Outside of the very obvious human issues involved, it will expose commission drug test as what many believe it is: Something very easy to avoid. I've heard Dave Meltzer call it an "idiot test" on multiple occasions — in that you have to be an idiot to fail.

But what's more interesting is that both Parisyan and Hallman, opponents at UFC 123, are both saying something they've failed tests for (Parisyan for painkillers and Hallman for steroids) are more commonly used than the drug test results reveal. Now, I'd have to say I believe that, but some could construe their statements as just covering their own behinds.

As more and more fighters start to come out and talk about drug-related issues, the commissions need to re-evaluate how they do business. I understand it's not always financially feasible for the commissions to do the type of testing they'd like in this day and age, but this sport will lose credibility fast if it gains a drug problem like professional wrestling has. If the problem is as large as Parisyan and Hallman indicate it is, the sport — from the commissions to the promotions — will pay the price sooner rather than later if it doesn't clean up its act.