The smallest sample size yielded the biggest result.
UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said that of the 19 out-of-competition drug tests of fighters they are aware of in 2013 and 2014, five returned positive results for banned substances and/or recreational drugs. That's 26.3 percent, "an alarming number" Fertitta said.
That was just one fact mentioned by the head of the leading mixed martial arts promotion on Wednesday as the UFC announced plans for a new multimillion anti-doping program.
The UFC said it plans to make all fighters on its roster subject to random testing out of competition for both performance-enhancing and recreational drugs, effective July 1. It also plans to put all main event and championship bout fighters through "extensive" out of competition testing. Fertitta estimated 984 fighters would be tested annually (based on 41 events in a year, with 12 fights on each card), 96 of which would be in those marquee bouts.
"Our current methods are catching athletes using PEDs," Fertitta said. "Although we feel confident that the in-competition has been effective, we recognize the need for a more robust out-of-competition plan in accordance with athletic commissions and regulatory bodies."
Fertitta also said the UFC is talking with several drug-testing companies about expanding the testing protocols, using the standards set forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
"This is a call-out to all of the athletes on our roster," Fertitta said. "You'll be tested in competition, you'll be tested out of competition, and if you're using, you will be caught, and there will be significant penalties that go along with that."
The UFC also said it will advocate to all athletic commissions in the United States and abroad harsher punishments. It even said it would fund the additional costs if need be.
"We are committed to ridding the sport of PEDs," Fertitta said. "So be it, if we lose main events, we lose main events.
"Not doing anything is not an option. We have to do this."
A recent string of positive tests by some of the UFC's highest-profile fighters helped bring the issue to the forefront. Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, considered by many as the greatest MMA fighter ever, tested positive for steroids during an out-of-competition test on Jan. 9. He then tested positive for drostanolone and androstane, both steroids, in his pre-fight exam on Jan. 31 and for drostanolone and two benzodiazepines -- oxazepam and temazepam -- in his post-fight test. Silva defeated Nick Diaz at UFC 183 on Jan. 31.
Silva was suspended temporarily by the Nevada Athletic Commission pending a disciplinary hearing at a to-be-determined date. Diaz also was suspended with the same pending hearing for testing positive for marijuana metabolites for a third time.
"When a guy like Anderson Silva gets caught, that definitely sends a message," UFC president Dana White said. "It's going to get worse before it gets better."
Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine during an out-of-competition test last December and was fined $25,000. Such a test result isn't actionable by the athletic commission because it was out of competition. Jones didn't fight until Jan. 3.
Hector Lombard, a popular welterweight, failed his UFC 182 post-fight test on Jan. 3 and was pulled from his next scheduled bout when the UFC received the results of the test on Jan. 13.
"Given the recent spat of high-profile cases that have come back positive, we needed to address this sooner rather than later," Fertitta said. "For the good of the sport, for the integrity of the sport, for what we're trying to do here, we needed to address this issue ASAP."
The UFC's new drug-testing plans -- effective July 1 -- is the first step toward cleaning up the sport. Another factor key is the penalty structure in place, something Fertitta and White both said needs to be addressed.
Typically, a fighter who tests positive will receive a nine-month suspension. Given that most fighters only compete two or three times a year, Fertitta and White said the punishment for getting caught taking a banned substance isn't strict enough.
WADA often issues a four-year suspension for those testing positive for PEDs, which fits the Olympic model. Is that possible for MMA? Maybe, said Fertitta and White.
"Current penalties that are being put forth, we don't believe are enough to deter athletes from taking PEDs," Fertitta said. "Whether it's two years or four years, we'll have to debate that."
"If you're 28 and looking at four years off, that might be it," White said. "Now, you look at the risk vs. reward, and it's a lot more dangerous."