In a shocking turn of events, the UFC 200 mega-event that will take place on July 9th will no longer feature one of the most anticipated fights and rematches in UFC history.
The long-awaited, highly anticipated light heavyweight championship unification rematch between Jones and Cormier was pulled from the card on Wednesday due to a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Association (USADA) drug test failure from a test administered to Jones on June 16th.
The UFC held an emergency news conference evening to announce Jones’ removal from UFC 200 and that the heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt had been elevated to the headlining act at UFC 200.
This morning, Jones held a news conference of his own and was in a distraught and emotional state. It was there that he answered media questions while fighting back tears, adamantly stating how he never intentionally used a banned substance and would fight to clear his name.
“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.”
After fielding a few questions, Jones got up and left the dais, retreating to the back of the MGM Grand ballroom where the news conference was set up. He returned a few minutes later, but in his absence, Jones’ agent, Malki Kawa, stated no details would be revealed regarding the specific nature of the substance “Bones” was flagged for.
What Kawa did state, however, was that the B-sample of Jones’ drug test would be tested today at a Salt Lake City lab with the hope of results within the next 24 hours. Kawa admitted the odds of the B-sample providing a different result were “slim,” but he said he believes the result could come from a tainted supplement.
“We’re going to take this step-by-step, day-by-day,” Kawa said. “Jones didn’t cheat.”
If Jones fails to prove his innocence in the matter, he would likely face a two-year suspension from competition, per USADA sanctions. At 28, that’s a hit the prime years of his career. It wouldn’t end his time as a competitor, though, he said, and regardless of what happens, he plans to continue fighting whenever allowed.
“If I do have to sit two years, I’ll be back,” Jones said. “Even though I may seem broken up here, I am not broken. I’m just really upset.”
Jones’ life has been a series of unfortunate mishaps in recent years. His career took a turn for the worse after beating Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015. He was involved in a well-documented hit-and-run accident that left a pregnant woman with a broken arm. As a result he was stripped of the UFC title he’d defended eight consecutive times and suspended from competition until his issues were resolved.
It took some time for that to happen, but Jones was finally reinstated earlier this year. He opened up to Rolling Stone in a February interview about his history with alcohol abuse, drug abuse and much more. That interview took place before a scheduled UFC 197 rematch with Cormier – who won Jones’ stripped title during his absence – in April, but the fight fell apart one just two weeks’ notice when Cormier suffered a knee injury.
Jones would instead fight Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197 in April in an interim championship affair. He won a somewhat lackluster decision in his first bout in 16 months. That set the table once again for the rematch with Cormier, who has only lost once in his entire career and that was against Jones.
This time the rematch fell apart on fight week, and Jones apologized to Cormier as well as the fans that have supported his career and comeback.
“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 during his press conference today. “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.”
Denise White, Jones’ public relation and crisis management consultant, closed the news conference by stating the potential test failure wouldn’t impact Jones’ probation agreement stemming from his hit-and-run accident. Moreover, she claimed Jones has been tested for alcohol and recreational drugs multiple times since his probation began with not so much as a hiccup.
Although Jones let his tears and emotions flow for the world to see, he vowed to remain strong. He preached his faith in Christianity and believes that faith will help guide him back to a path of positivity.
“My attitude was just to continue to fight,” Jones said. “Just try to be optimistic and positive, just to figure out what good can come from this. I feel like I have to re-climb a ladder. … I believe that something good will come from this. Right now it’s hard to see it.
“This too shall pass. This story isn’t over. The best is yet to come. This changes nothing when it comes to my journey. If I’m out for two years, maybe this is something I needed for my development as a person.”