In case you missed it, news broke on Tuesday night that Jon Jones has been flagged by USADA for a potential doping violation in connection with his return to the octagon at UFC 214. After serving a year suspension for his previous doping infraction, Jones came back with a bang by knocking out Daniel Cormier to win the light heavyweight championship that he never technically lost.
Now, it looks like the result of that fight will be washed away from the records book.
As first reported by TMZ and MMAFighting.com, Jones was flagged for a sample collected after his weigh-in, which took place approximately 36 hours before the fight. He has been provisionally suspended, although the UFC has not yet officially stripped him of the title. If they do, it will be the third time that Jones has been stripped of either the undisputed or interim championship.
Jones will, of course, be given a full and fair due process so that he can attempt to defend himself against the failed tests. Although extremely rare, false positives are a thing. Other fighters have (again, infrequently) successfully argued that a tainted supplement caused a test failure, and been given lesser punishments as a result. However, if Jones and his team can’t reasonably explain themselves, the pound-for-pound greatest fighters of a generation is looking at a suspension somewhere in the range of two-to-four years.
Jones has released an official statement through his manager Malki Kawa:
We are all at a complete loss for words right now. Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months to avoid this exact situation. We are having the samples tested again to determine the validity or source of contamination. Jon is crushed by this news and we are doing whatever we can as a team, to support him.
Daniel Cormier, who stands to be given back the UFC light heavyweight championship should Jones be ultimately found responsible for the failed drug test, also released an official statement on the news:
“It’s hard to find words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” Cormier said. “I’m disappointed to hear the news. It’s very emotional.
“We as athletes are entitled to due process, and I will refrain from saying much more until I know exactly what happened.
“In my mind, on July 29, I competed and I lost. I thought Jon Jones was the better man that day. I don’t know what to think anymore. I can’t believe we are going through all of this again. We will see what happens next.
“Thank you to all my fans who have supported me during this dark time. I love you all very much.”
The UFC have only officially said that they are waiting for more information as USADA and the California State Athletic Commission go through the necessary processes, although president Dana White said that if Jones is ultimately stripped of the title, the belt will likely go directly to Cormier without a fight.