This announcement comes due to a Jon Jones drug testing abnormality.
The decision was made to move the card as the Nevada State Athletic Commission would not have the proper time to investigate for Jones to be cleared to fight in Las Vegas.
The UFC have stated that Jones has not violated any testing and that a recent test showed minimal traces of Chlorodehydromethyltestosterone (DHCMT), or turinabol, in Jones’ system. This was the substance that led to Jones 15 month suspension after testing positive for it in 2017.
The California State Athletic Commission will approve a licence for Jones to face Alexander Gustafsson for the vacant Light Heavyweight world championship.
UFC VP of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky told MMA Junkie that Jones’ positive test is not a violation and said USADA, in consultation with other organisations around the world, as well as another sport league, believe the test is some sort of “pulsing” effect, not a new intake of the substance that Jones tested positive for after a UFC 214 win over Daniel Cormier in July 2017.
Novitzky said that the levels were minimal.
“A picogram is a one-trillionth of a gram,” Novitzky said. “If you put one grain of salt on the table and split it up into 50 million pieces, a picogram is one of those pieces of that gram of salt. These levels have shown up in the single and double digits of picograms – so such a small amount.”
“There’s been no violation of the anti-doping program,” Novitzky said. “He’s been cleared to fight in terms of the USADA program. USADA fully analyzed it internally. They reached out to outside experts from around the world. They reached out to another sports league that has seen the same issue. And all of them, independent of us, determined that this was not a reingestion of the substance and this very, very small amount that was occurring and still showing up, according to these expects from around the world, did not provide any performance-enhancing benefit.
“Not much is known about this longterm metabolite. The parent compound is not approved for human use anywhere in the world but what both USADA and other entities are seeing is that a recurrence, or potential ‘pulsing,’ where you have multiple negative tests and then a positive one for a very low amount – they’re seeing that quite commonly over time. And no one knows how long this could last – it could potentially last forever (in Jones’ system).”
Dana White also believes Jones is clean.
“I haven’t heard anything negative about Jon Jones leading up to this fight – nothing,” White said. “He was willing to jump on a plane yesterday and go take a drug test – like, immediately. If I want to plan a PR for Jon Jones in two months, try pulling that together. It’s tough to get Jon Jones. He’s willing to do anything. So, I believe that Jon Jones is clean. He’s in fight shape, and I believe that he’s been doing the right thing.”
Both Novitzky and White have said that moving the card to a different State was not just to keep Jones on the card as he may not get licenced for Nevada.
“This is an exact reason why we have our program independently administered,” Novitzky said. “I could completely understand if this was a UFC decision, skepticism about, ‘Hey, why is this being done?’ But we are not involved in the decision and the determination that Jon didn’t do anything wrong. I’m only basing that – Dana is only basing that, (UFC general counsel) Hunter (Campbell) is only basing that – on these letters and statements that we’re getting from the world experts that have studied this now for several months. Timing is not great, but this is as above board as you can get.”
“We wouldn’t do it,” White said. “We’d pull the fight, and the (Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes title fight) would be the main event and the fight would roll. That’s it. We’d roll on. Jones would either go away forever, or – you know how I am. If these guys even doubted that something bad happened here and he was wrong or whatever, the fight’s off. We’d pull the fight. Jones didn’t do anything wrong here. All the biggest experts, the smartest people in the world that deal with this are saying that he did not cheat, he didn’t do anything. So how do we not do this fight?”
Fans who have paid for tickets for Las Vegas can get a refund and tickets for the new location to on sale Wednesday. White said the UFC are to take a $5 million hit on the move as the expected gate for the T-Mobile Arena was expected to make $6 million whereas The Forum will be around the $1 million mark.