When Jon Jones was pulled from the UFC 200 card just days before the July 9 pay-per-view, it looked like the former light heavyweight champion would be gone from the sport for a few years. But recent comments from Jones and UFC president Dana White suggest that the sport’s top fighter could be back in the octagon earlier than expected.
Since it was revealed that he failed his United States Anti-Doping Agency drug test, Jones has maintained his innocence, claiming he unknowingly took a banned substance. A few days ago, he posted a video on Instagram indicating that he would soon be vindicated.
“I’m sure you guys are curious about what’s going on with this USADA situation,”Jones said. “Obviously I can’t get into it because it’s still pending, but what I can say is that we have found out lots of really good news, and I am expecting to be back in the Octagon really soon.”
Jones received a temporary suspension after he failed a drug test that was administered on June 16. It was revealed that he tested positive for the anti-estrogen drugs clomiphene and letrozole, though Jones continued to deny that he knowingly cheated.
While the specifics are still unknown, White says it appears Jones has been telling the truth.
“It’s coming back now that it looks like he did not take the supplement that everybody thought he took,” White said on “The Jim Rome Show” on Tuesday. “We’ll see how this thing plays out. I don’t even know if this is public. I don’t even know if I can talk about it. Normally, I’ll talk about anything, but when it comes to medical stuff, you can’t do it. But it’s looking like Jon Jones did not take the drug that everybody thought he took. It looks like it’s something else."
White didn’t completely absolve Jones of any blame, though he indicated that Jones didn’t know that a substance he was taking contained the banned drugs.
“He definitely didn’t get a bum rap, but the substance that he was [alleged to be] on was a pill that you take when you’re coming down off of steroids,” White said. “But this thing is apparently in other things. Jon took something else. Where he doesn’t come off clean is, you have to tell USADA everything you put in your body leading up to the fight – and he did not.”
Jones is facing a two-year suspension for his transgressions, and he could still miss time despite potential revelations that he didn’t knowingly cheat. In June, UFC welterweight Tim Means had his two-year suspension reduced to six months when USADA concluded that Means took a tainted supplement. UFC middleweight Yoel Romero had his two-year suspension cut to six months in April in a similar circumstance.
A sixth-month suspension would still put Jones out of action for the remainder of 2016, and it could be a while before he gets another shot at the UFC light heavyweight champion. The winner of Saturday’s fight between Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira will go on to challenge Daniel Cormier for the belt.
Jones is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in UFC history, and his only loss came via disqualification seven years ago. Following seven straight title defenses, he was stripped of his belt in April of last year and suspended after multiple run-ins with the law. Jones also tested positive for cocaine a few months before his first suspension.
Jones returned to the octagon on April 30 of this year and defeated Ovince Saint-Preux by unanimous decision. He was supposed to take on Cormier for the light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 200.