Dennis Hallman has heard a lot about Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) recently. From fans, from the MMA media, and even from fellow fighters like B.J. Penn, who called the medical treatment 'total B.S.' Everyone has something to say regarding a subject Hallman believes they know little to nothing about.
"People hear something from an official who was uneducated and they run around talking like they know the facts. They don't," Hallman said as he walked the aisles of a Las Vegas grocery store. "...The thing about those guys is that they are as ignorant as they can be. You can't generalize everybody in every situation. Those guys probably don't even know where testosterone comes from in the body.
"You hear guys making statements that are ignorant all the time. And they've never spent 15 minutes looking up or studying hormone replacement. They make statements like that because the media propaganda machine brainwashes the average citizen into thinking steroids are bad. When really, they are medicine. But just like any medicine, if you abuse it, it becomes a drug."
Pro wrestler Lance Storm isn't buying it. He publicly renounced the UFC and MMA in general, citing an abuse of steroids he just wasn't comfortable with. In particular, Storm took issue with Testosterone Replacement Therapy. He had seen this used an excuse in the pro wrestling industry, giving steroid abusers a free pass to continue using:
This whole issue makes me even madder because, in my not completely uneducated opinion, the Testosterone Replacement Therapy deal is a complete load of horse shit. None of these fighters are suffering from low levels of testosterone unless they are self induced by previous steroid use. We are talking about incredible fit, very muscular individuals, some of which appear on the cover of Muscle, and Fitness magazines, they are not suffering from low levels of testosterone, unless they are taking steroids for an extended period of time and then get off to produce the desired effect when they go to their doctors for a prescription.
Remarks like that send Hallman right over the edge.
"It does not do that. It can do that," Hallman says, stressing the word can. He knows this stuff backwards and forwards and explains, in dizzying detail how your body sends messages to the testes to turn cholesterol into testosterone. More detail can be found here, for the Mr. Wizards of the world. But Hallman can put it in layman's terms, too.
"It's like if you smoke cigarettes, 10 packs a day for years," he explains. "The odds of you getting lung cancer are pretty good. Does that mean you're automatically going to get lung cancer? No. Does it mean that if you do get lung cancer it was caused by the smoking? No. But the likelihood is pretty high. It's the same thing with testosterone. If you take 1000 milligrams of testosterone every week for five years because you are in the WWE, sure, the likelihood of your body stopping its production of testosterone is pretty high. But if you take low amounts? If you smoke one cigarette a day for years are you likely to get lung cancer? Probably not. Can you? Yeah. But it's not as likely.
"If you're on synthetic hormones, your body can stop producing luteinizing hormones and that's what tells the body naturally to build its own testosterone. If you're on high enough dosages for a long enough time, it's true your body can stop producing that hormone. Even on a low amount of testosterone for a long period of time, your body can naturally shut off.
"People say 'This guy got busted for steroid, he's not going to be able to produce his own testosterone now.' We have another steroid called cortisol. People go into the doctor all the time to get cortisone shots. You think that their body stops producing cortisol because they got a cortisone shot? Obviously not. It only takes a simple guy and a simple analogy to figure that out."
Hallman credits Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) with his career resurgence. He was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last year and the HRT treatment has made it possible for him to train harder and better than ever before. His body, he explains, didn't have the correct amount of cortisol, which is what feeds your adrenal gland. It made training next to impossible. He just couldn't recover quickly enough to reach his maximum potential. Some are skeptical, after all Hallman did fail a 2007 drug test after a Strikeforce fight, popping hot for Drostanolone and Nandrolone. He contends, however, that he's found a legal and ethical way to beat the same issues in his body, the kind of issues that might drive a fighter to try illegal steroids.
"My body doesn't produce its own testosterone or cortisol, several hormones. Testosterone is just one of them. So I'm on HRT right now," Hallman said. "There's a difference between being on it and abusing it. I take 75 milligrams a week of testosterone. Taking 75 milligrams a week, it's not going to take your level, even if you have normal levels of testosterone, over the limit anyway. That's my situation with HRT. I have to have it to keep my levels from dropping dangerously low. If that happens I would be at risk for diseases like osteoporosis."
On Saturday, Hallman fights fellow veteran Brian Ebersole. Hallman is coming off a torn lateral collateral ligament in his knee, but says he's ready for action. Ebersole, an unorthodox fighter who upset Chris Lytle in his UFC debut in February, has lost the secret to his success - at least according to Hallman, who contends that Ebersole's chest hair, shaved into an arrow pointing at his own face, was key.
"He called it a 'hair-ow.' But I think his girlfriend shaved it," Hallman says with a laugh. "He was like Samson. And Delilah just shaved his hair. He shaved his chest hair so he's going to be weak."
Hallman won't be following that path. "No man, my dad would kick my ass."
With a win over Ebersole, he would be riding a three fight win streak. At 35 he feels better than ever - and he isn't willing to give up on the idea of a championship run in the UFC to cap his career.
"They're putting this on pay per view, so obviously they are willing to market whoever wins," Hallman said. "I want to get this win under my belt, then I'm sure there will be somebody else waiting before a title shot can be talked about. Hopefully someone else who has been marketed. It should be good. I want to fight the guys that can get me to the top."