UFC interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been notified of a potential doping violation, cancelling him out of his Saturday bout with Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 200.
UFC President Dana White announced the dramatic change Wednesday night, just three days before the mixed martial arts promotion's biggest show this year in the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Jones tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample taken June 16 by USADA, which administers the UFC's anti-drug policy. Jones is afforded due process to potentially appeal the findings from USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) but per protocol he is still not allowed to fight on July 9.
Considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in MMA, Jones has failed drug tests for two of his past three scheduled fights. He tested positive for apparent cocaine use before his first fight with Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015.
Jones served a suspension for much of 2015 after his involvement in a hit-and-run accident with a pregnant woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he trains at the famed Jackson-Winklejohn Academy.
The new main event is the heavyweight showdown between WWE wrestler-turned MMA fighter, Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt, which was the former co-headliner.
Jones was looking to unify the light heavyweight belt in a fight that was highly publicized and very polarizing. UFC President Dana White didn’t rule out the possibility for another fight for Cormier, saying on Wednesday that a potential new opponent is possible. UFC released the following statement in regards to Jones:
The UFC organization was notified tonight that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Jon Jones of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 16, 2016.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.
However, because Jones was scheduled to compete against Daniel Cormier this coming Saturday, July 9 in Las Vegas, there is insufficient time for a full review before the scheduled bout and therefore the fight has been removed from the fight card. As a result, the three-round heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt will become the UFC 200 main event.
Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information or UFC statements will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Ticket refunds available upon request at primary point of purchase.
According to various news outlets, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who was on a flight at the time the news about Jones' drug test was first released, messaged White and said fighters are already offering to step up to face Cormier on short notice. "This is devastating for Daniel Cormier," Dana White said. "Not only mentally and physically, he just went through a camp, and financially, this pay-per-view is trending to be massive, and he shares in that revenue. He's devastated."
And he's probably saying that Jones "got him for his dividends."
Stay tuned as this story evolves.