Jon Jones will not be fighting at UFC 200 following a failed drug test from June. In fact, he won’t even be in Las Vegas this weekend. The interim UFC light heavyweight champion told assembled media that he would be heading home after he got on the same page as his probation officer. Jones was vague and emotional throughout the press conference, even walking out at one point as he tried to compose himself.
Jones, manager Malki Kawa, and a crisis management specialist addressed the media this morning. The theme of the press conference was that Jones was innocent, having unknowingly ingested something. Maybe. The B-sample could still come back clean, but as Kawa noted when he was left to field questions, that doesn’t seem very likely.
Jones talked about moving and trying to find a positive – something he’s done on many occasions over the last few years. And that’s why many people aren’t giving him the benefit of the doubt as he echoes the popular drug test failure excuse of “I didn’t know what I was putting into my body.”
Jon Jones is 22-1 in his MMA career with the only asterisks attached to the 1 loss. That was way back in 2009. In 2014 he tested positive for a cocaine metabolite. When the news came out in January 2015, he went to rehab for a night. In April 2015, he was involved in a hit-and-run, leaving a marijuana pipe in the car as he ran from the scene. The UFC stripped him of his title. In April of this year, he won the interim title. Saturday would have been just his fourth fight since 2013. In a sport full of contract disputes and injuries, Jones had no one to blame but himself for missing out on numerous paydays. His refusal to “jot” things down during his preparation for UFC 200 is just the latest example.
In November 2013, less than 2 months after he beat Alexander Gustaffson at UFC 165, Jones, then 26, proclaimed that he wanted to leave the sport by the time he was 30. Via MMA Junkie:
“I just want to leave the sport with a good head on my shoulders,” Jones told MMAjunkie. “I don’t want to be one of these guys that are taking fights way past their prime.”
“I want to leave my legacy in a healthy spot,” Jones said. “I want my legacy to be respected and I just want to leave on top.”
Jones fought four times in 2011, the year he became UFC light heavyweight champion. The next year he fought twice, wrecked his Bentley and pled guilty to DUI. He refused a fight on short notice and was deemed a “fucking sport killer” by his boss, UFC President Dana White.
Jones certainly didn’t kill the sport then – a weak undercard was to blame for the UFC 151 cancellation – and he didn’t kill the sport now, but he’s certainly not helping his own career. Unless something miraculous happens, Jones is probably looking at a 2-year ban. He will return at 31 because he’s a fighter. The question is, how will people judge that 22-1 record?