For Jon Jones, the outcome of the main event at UFC 214 was supposed to be a story of vindication. Redemption. A fresh start and a chance to put his demons and past misdemeanors behind him. He delivered the result he had promised, knocking out Daniel Cormier in the third round and carried out a humble and emotional post fight octagon interview with Joe Rogan where he said;
“It’s such a beautiful moment. I did a lot of right things to get back in this position. Anybody at home who let yourself down, you let your family down, you let your parents down or your co-workers down, you let yourself down, it’s never over. As long as you never quit, it’s never over. I’m back here.”
Less than 1 month later on 22nd August 2017, it all came crashing down around Jones in familiar fashion, as the news broke that a pre fight urine sample taken on 28th July 2017 after the weigh ins had failed USADA testing with the UFC issuing the following statement;
“The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Jon Jones of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected following his weigh-in on July 28, 2017.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Jones, as it relates to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and future UFC participation. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) also retains jurisdiction over this matter as the sample collection was performed the day before Jones’ bout at UFC 214 in Anaheim, CA, and USADA will work to ensure that the CSAC has the necessary information to determine its proper judgment of Jones’ potential anti-doping violation.
Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”
Just 21 days later, USADA confirmed that the B sample taken from Jones on 28th July 2017 confirmed the findings of the A sample and the following day the California State Athletic Commission took the decision to over turn his win over Daniel Cormier with the outcome being listed as a No contest. Jones was provisionally suspended by the CSAC and that same day the UFC announced that it was stripping Jones of the Light Heavyweight championship and returning the title to Cormier.
Now, in the middle of fight week leading up to Cormier’s first defense of the 205 belt, reports have surfaced that in an attempt to prove his innocence, Jones has taken and passed a polygraph test to demonstrate that he did not . knowingly take the banned substance Turinabol. The news has been met with justifiable skepticism by a large portion of the UFC fanbase with many pointing out that there is valid reason why polygraph tests are not admissable in court. The test was not requested by either USADA or the UFC and ultimately, does little to explain how or why this banned substance appeared in Jones urine the day before the biggest night of his career, despite him passing random tests before the fight and his post fight test.
Considering the polygraph was administered on 7th December 2017, it is curious that the information has been released to the public now, on the eve of Cormier’s chance at redemption of his own. With Jones hearing with CSAC pushed back to some time in February 2018 you have to wonder what he and his team hope to achieve by releasing the news now. With Cormier focused on defending his belt against notorious knockout artist Volkan Oezdemir in the co main event at UFC 220 this weekend, this is an unnecessary distraction.
As an MMA fan, I want to believe that there is a legitimate explanation. Jones is an undeniably talented fighter and the prospect of seeing him test himself again in the future at either light heavyweight or even heavyweight is too exciting for me to write him off just yet. Not to mention his highly publicised call out of Brock Lesnar. That said, if he is proven to have knowingly cheated, I and the others who hope for an honest explanation will have to gracefully accept the consequences and move on in the knowledge that we will never get too see just how talented Jones really is.
While Jones may yet be cleared of knowingly taking a banned substance, we will likely never know the truth behind how that failed test came to be. Even if Jones is cleared, his legacy will forever be tainted in the eyes of many fans. There will forever be speculation around what could have been. What might Jones have achieved had this latest fiasco not have taken place?
Whether it be positive or negative, Jon Jones will remain a hot topic for conversation among MMA fans for years to come. All we can be certain of is that the Jon “Bones” Jones story is not finished just yet.