Less than a week after overcoming what was perhaps the biggest challenge of his MMA career, Jon Jones is once again put to the test. But this time around, it is against an opponent that may the hardest to beat: Himself.
Tested Positive for Banned Substance
In a shocking development, UFC lightweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones has tested positive for traces of cocaine prior to his fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 last weekend. Jones tested positive for benzoylecgonine, which is the main metabolite for cocaine during a random test conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on December 4, 2014. The urine samples were analyzed at a WADA-certified laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah and the results were issued last December 23, 2014. However, Jones’ victory over Daniel Cormier will not be overturned because WADA bans benzoylecgonine “in competition” only. Jones’ drug test was considered as “out of competition” hence the NSAC allowed him to fight at UFC 182 and was unable to penalize him. A report by yahoo.com said that the NSAC conducted a follow-up test on Jones later in December and that Jones passed that test.
NSAC executive director Bob Bennett told espn.com on Tuesday that Jones “admitted himself into a drug treatment center”. Jones confirmed this and released an official statement through his attorney:
“With the support of my family, I have entered into a drug treatment facility. I want to apologize to my fiancée, my children, as well as my mother, father, and brothers for the mistake that I made. I also want to apologize to the UFC, my coaches, my sponsors and equally important to my fans. I am taking this treatment program very seriously. Therefore, at this time my family and I would appreciate privacy.”
For its part, the UFC also issued an official statement regarding the issue:
“We support UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ decision to enter a drug treatment facility to address his recent issue,” the UFC said in a statement. “While we are disappointed in the failed test, we applaud him for making this decision to enter a drug treatment facility. Jon is a strong, courageous fighter inside the Octagon, and we expect him to fight this issue with the same poise and diligence. We commend him on his decision, and look forward to him emerging from this program a better man as a result.”
Reputation Takes Further Damage
The failed drug test is yet another sad event in the career of Jones who is considered as the best Pound for Pound fighter in the sport today. Jones’ impressive and dominant victory over the previously unbeaten Cormier has opened conversations of him being the greatest Mixed Martial Artist of All-time after he’s repelled one top contender after another. Jones became the youngest UFC champion ever at age 23 and has held the belt since 2011, making 8 consecutive defenses including the win over Cormier. However, despite all the ring achievements, Jones is considered by many MMA fans to be a “villain” because of his arrogance and quirkiness. Jones’ reputation only takes further damage with this latest controversy. He and Cormier were fined by the NSAC and ordered to do community service last year after they figured in a press conference brawl last August. Jones also had a brush with the law in 2012 when he pleaded guilty to the charge of driving while intoxicated after he rammed his Bentley to a pole in Binghamton, New York. He avoided jail time but was fined and had his driver’s license suspended for six months.
The PPV business
Jones ducked punishment once again with the nature of this violation but the UFC can still penalize him using their code of conduct. But based on its official statement, it doesn’t appear that the UFC will do that now, not especially after UFC 182 could be the highest selling PPV event since Silva-Weidman 2 when the final numbers are tallied. The UFC’s PPV business has suffered so much since the departure of St. Pierre and Silva. Jones versus Cormier was supposed to jumpstart a renaissance in 2015 with the UFC even increasing its PPV prices. Now the UFC and its best fighter (and supposedly its new face) find themselves in a potential fight against an imaginary opponent called “image”.