Today the UFC announced that Jon Jones has been pulled from UFC 200. USADA notified Jon Jones that he failed an out-of-competition drug test that took place on June 16th and will be unable to compete Saturday night. There is an appeal process but it takes 72 hours for it to be completed and the process would not be done by the time of the fight.
This is not Jon Jones’ first issue with testing and adds onto his history of out-of-competition incidents. Jones was stripped of his light heavyweight title after a felony hit-and-run charge in April 2015. Before fighting Daniel Cormier, Jones also failed a drug test a month prior to fighting when testing found cocaine in his system. In January of 2015 Jones had a brief stint in rehab.
Jon Jones is still on probation so if it is found that he did something illegal, such as using steroids, he will be in violation of his probation and will go to prison again. Recreational drugs are not tested out-of-competition so the positive test must be a result of a performance enhancing drug (PED). If there is in fact a PED violation Jones is also looking at a two year suspension from fighting.
Daniel Cormier was looking to get revenge from his loss in UFC 182 and was looking at making seven figures from this fight. Cormier will be missing out on a lot of money given that the fight is no longer happening. Dana White left open the possibility that the UFC could find someone to fight Daniel Cormier on what is essentially 48 hours notice.
Daniel Cormier said:
The main event for UFC 200 will now be Brock Lesnar fighting Mark Hunt. Lesnar will now be most notable for being the main event on UFC 100 and UFC 200.
UFC 200 continues to be the event that won’t come together. The card has been in constant flux as upsets happen, fighters take months off from their careers, and because some fighters didn’t want to fulfill their marketing responsibilities. Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie points out that this is the 22nd main or co-main event change to the UFC calendar in 2016.
Pulling Jon Jones from UFC 200 will most likely cost the UFC millions of dollars in lost PPV buys before even considering the marketing dollars that went into promoting the event. The number 200 will still generate a lot of buys and having the name “Lesnar” in the line-up still holds some value amongst casual sports fans.
The upside to this incident is that people know USADA is going to be making tough calls. The UFC installed USADA Olympic-Style drug testing, making it the leader in sports when it comes to testing for drugs in athletes. There was a potential conflict of interest with USADA possibly suspending top fighters from UFC events when the UFC is the one writing checks for USADA. This story is a clear indicator that USADA and the UFC are going to stand by drug testing. When announcing the new partnership with USADA Lorenzo Fertitta said that in terms of cleaning up the sport that things were going to get worse before they got better.
Combat sports, more than any other sport, needs to be free of PEDs. Fighting can at times be a matter of life and death. The unique and dangerous form of competition is only made more dangerous when fighters enter the ring who are enhanced by drugs. This is a huge loss for fight fans, for the UFC, and for Daniel Cormier. Dana White said:
Dana White when asked what he would say to the fans: "This sucks. I don’t know what to say. It’s unfortunate."
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) July 7, 2016
Now everyone knows that USADA is for real when they pull the sport’s best fighter out of the biggest event in the history of the sport. It’s also promising that the UFC is still standing by USADA showing doubters that they are truly committed to making the sport as safe as possible.