Another UFC fight, another issue with one of Jon Jones’ drug tests. In the latest drama surrounding one of the most talented fighters to have ever stepped inside the octagon, Jones test result from December 9th showed a trace amount of DHCMT also known as turinabol. This is the same substance that Jones tested positive for in 2017, which led to a 15-month suspension. He was just recently cleared of this suspension in order to participate in the UFC 232 main event fight against Alexander Gustaffson.
The revelation of this testing abnormality has forced the UFC to move their PPV event from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to The Forum in Inglewood. It’s an unprecedented move by the MMA company, which made the decision this weekend. The Nevada State Athletic Commission did not have enough time to investigate the Jones drug test issue, which would’ve most likely led to Jones having been removed from the card.
Instead of the UFC canceling their main event of the PPV, they decided to move the entire UFC 232 event to Southern California since the California State Athletic Commission said they would give Jones a license to fight on Saturday, December 29th.
The NSAC released the following statement about the Jones’ drug testing matter:
“After extensive analysis of Mr. Jones’ prior 18 months of USADA in- and out-of-competition anti-doping drug testing results, Director Bennett, Chair Marnell and Mr. Jones agree that he will appear at an evidentiary hearing in January. This will allow for a measured, thoughtful and comprehensive discussion of his anti-doping testing protocol and results and provide an opportunity for the NSAC to determine the appropriate path forward for him in Nevada. We look forward to this hearing.”
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC VP of Athlete Health and Performance, spoke with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and stated that this abnormal drug test is most likely due to residual trace amounts still in Jon Jones’ system and not a new violation:
“There’s been no violation of the anti-doping program. He’s been cleared to fight in terms of the USADA program. … USADA fully analyzed it internally. They reached out to outside experts from around the world. They reached out to another sports league that has seen the same issue. And all of them, independent of us, determined that this was not a reingestion of the substance and this very, very small amount that was occurring and still showing up, according to these experts from around the world, did not provide any performance-enhancing benefit.”
Novitzky would go on to state how there’s not a lot of long-term research done on this metabolite. Instead of this being a case of re-ingestion, the USADA and other health agencies believe this is a case of “pulsing,” which is when there are numerous negative tests and then a positive test of an extremely low amount. It’s also unclear as to how long this pulsing may occur. Novitzky went on to define just how low this trace amount was:
“A picogram is a one-trillionth of a gram. If you put one grain of salt on the table and split it up into 50 million pieces, a picogram is one of those pieces of that gram of salt. These levels have shown up in the single and double digits of picograms – so such a small amount.”
Ultimately, the UFC believes that Jon Jones did nothing wrong here. After the company consulted the USADA and other experts, they were confident in Jones’ innocence and felt that this fight needed to happen as it would’ve been unfair to each combatant. UFC President Dana White believes Jones is innocent and publicly supported his fighter:
“So, I believe that Jon Jones is clean. He’s in fight shape, and I believe that he’s been doing the right thing.”
White also stated publicly that if they believed Jones was guilty then the UFC would’ve pulled Jones from UFC 232 and went with Cyborg vs Nunes as the main event of the night. But, since the UFC is confident in Jones’ innocence, they decided to move the entire event.
It didn’t take long for Jones’ critics to come out in full force to publicly lambaste the talented fighter. These critics automatically assumed that the test results were due to Jones committing another violation. Jones’ biggest detractor Daniel Cormier took to social media and simply stated: “He tested positive again!”
However, after he heard the UFC’s decision to allow Jones to fight Gustaffson and the switching of venues for UFC 232, Cormier took his criticism a step further and vented his frustrations:
“USADA = joke, Jeff Novitzky = joke, Andy Foster = joke. A pinch of turinabol in an Olympic size pool from 2017 that stays in ur system for 18 months = joke. NSAC you’re cool”
The feud between Jones (22-1) and Cormier has gone on since late 2014. Jon Jones first defeated Cormier (21-1) at UFC 182 in early 2015 via Unanimous Decision. The rematch was in 2017 and Jones won via TKO in the 3rd round. However, that was the fight where Jones tested positive and received the long suspension. The result was overturned to a No Contest. The 2015 win by Jones is still the only loss in Cormier’s professional career.
The two fighters have bickered via social media and through various interviews over the last few months, especially the last week leading up to the UFC 232 event. Jones blasted Cormier via Twitter a few days ago:
“Fight me one more time and prove you’re actually the champ. I’ll donate $100,000 to a charity in San Diego if you accept. Conor McGregor was an actual double Champ, the whole world knows your claim is a freaking joke. You’re more than welcome to be my first title defense.”
I, along with millions of fight fans, would love to see these two fighters settle their differences in a trilogy fight before Cormier retires next year. Currently, numerous MMA betting sites have a future bet for Jones vs Cormier. MyBookie sees Jones as the favorite with a line of -225. Cormier is a noticeable underdog at +175 odds.
Despite having so much talent and success, Jones has struggled outside of the Octagon over the last 6 years:
This is about as bad as it gets for Jon Jones and the UFC other than an actual violation with USADA. Unfortunately, his track record of issues outside of the cage has given him a stigma of a cheater. So, it’s hard for anyone to believe he’s innocent of this latest drug test.
With that said, the small trace in his system didn’t warrant a violation with USADA and he’s had no other negative test or abnormality in the last 18 months. It’s hard to argue against those facts.
Jon Jones will take on Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 232 for the light heavyweight title. In the semi-main event, Chris Cyborg will take on Amanda Nunes for the women’s featherweight title. UFC 232 will now take place from The Forum in Inglewood, California. The first round of preliminary fights begins at 6 PM ET and the main card begins at 10 PM ET on PPV.
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