UFC 200 was supposed to cap interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones glorious comeback after more than a year of controversy and troubles outside of the octagon. Instead a dark cloud with a potential two-year suspension hangs over Jones’ head after he tested positive for a banned substance.
UFC has pulled Jones from the main event and unification bout against rival Daniel Cormier, which was supposed to close out the company’s wildly anticipated bicentennial pay-per-view event Saturday in Las Vegas.
The announcement of the failed test, taken on June 16 by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, came Wednesday and a tearful Jones addressed the media in a press conference Thursday while also denying that he used a performance enhancing drug.
"I want to first start by apologizing to all of the fans who came out and supported me for UFC 200, and obviously the UFC and the Fertittas for not being able to perform," Jones said Thursday. "I know they spent a lot to promote this event. Daniel Cormier, I want to apologize to Daniel Cormier. I know that this fight means a lot to him. The fight means a lot to me and the fight is not happening. So I just want to apologize everyone sincerely."
Started in July 2015, UFC’s relatively new anti-doping program calls for a two-year suspension should a fighter test positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
"I've been taking the same supplements for the majority of my career and I've been so outspoken about being against any type of performance enhancers," Jones said. "I'm still to the day against performance enhancers. And so the one thing that sucks, being labeled as someone who cheats, it hurts me more than anything else I've ever been through in my career."
Serving as both a rematch of Jones decision over Cormier in January 2015 and as as UFC’s biggest pay-per-view in its history, the main event will now feature Brock Lesnar against Mark Hunt.
Clearly UFC has just enough star power to survive the blow to the main event. But Jones’ future is in doubt.
While he’s certainly young enough that a two-year suspension won’t rob him entirely of his prime, the potential sit down won’t help Jones either. Two years away from the octagon, perhaps the most violent arena in all of sports, can result in the loss of timing and mental toughness. To say nothing of the lost potential earnings two years worth of fights and sponsorships can garner.
It’s currently unknown what substance actually trigged the positive test, but Jones can appeal it. The 28-year-old has never tested positive for PEDs before, however prior to his first bout with Cormier traces of cocaine were found in his system. Jones was also suspended by UFC from April to October of last year after his role in a hit-and-run accident.