Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier is officially off. It’s a shocking turn of events that no one saw coming, especially since we are less than three days out from UFC 200.
According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the fight was pulled because the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found Jones might have committed doping violations. Jon Jones was flagged for a possible violation based on the results of a test performed on June 16.
Okamoto writes, “Interim UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been pulled from his title unification bout against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 on Saturday after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency informed Jones of a potential doping violation Wednesday. UFC president Dana White announced the move Wednesday during an impromptu news conference at the MGM Grand.”
Dana White’s announcement can be viewed in the video below.
There are a couple of major concerns that must be acknowledged in the wake of this startling incident.
First, the fact that Jones returned relatively recently to the UFC following a hit-and-run scandal. He was even stripped of his light heavyweight belt, which Jon’s opponent and rival earned in his absence. If Jones was found to have taken performance enhancing drugs or PEDs ahead of his fight against Cormier, then all signs point to a two-year ban.
It would be hard to believe that Jon Jones came back from an indefinite suspension and lost title only to be once more sent away in disgrace.
The second immediate concern is what happens to the UFC main event slot. Daniel Cormier has trained very hard and did nothing wrong. However, because of the Jon Jones violation, Daniel could lose out on a major PPV event and payday. Luckily for Cormier, there are fighters prepared to fill Jon’s vacant spot at the last possible minute.
Gerard Mousasi has been particularly vocal on social media.
Dana White could opt to fill the Jon Jones space will a high-ranking fighter such as Anthony Johnson or Alexander Gustafsson. There’s no telling if either Johnson or Gustafsson will be fight-ready on a mere three days notice, so it’s possible that the persistent Gerard Mousasi might get his chance.
This article will be updated with news related to any potential replacements.
There are fighters who consistently train for situations like these, hoping that someone’s injury gets them onto a PPV card. However, it’s still a lot to ask most fighters. Because replacement would have to be coming in on extremely short notice, one would have to wonder just how a fair fight would even be possible.
Not everyone is a Nate Diaz-type of MMA fighter. Diaz agreed to face former featherweight champion Conor McGregor at UFC 196 with roughly 11 days notice. There was no doping violation. Instead, McGregor’s original opponent, Rafael dos Anjos, broke his foot during training. Because Nate was already preparing for a triathlon, he wasn’t exactly out of shape. The win for Diaz did manage to take practically everyone by surprise as few could have predicted a win with such little preparation ahead of time.
It’s hard to see a similar outcome happening for any fighter who steps in for Jon Jones.
Dana White announces that Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt is now the sole main event at UFC 200. pic.twitter.com/XxdUU5FRba— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 7, 2016
As of now, Dana White is saying that Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt will be the sole main event after the Jon Jones shocker. This decision would be interesting for the simple reason Lesnar was granted an exemption from early drug testing. The news that Brock was waived for early testing raised some doping violation concerns. Yet Fox Sports reports that Brock Lesnar has, in fact, been subjected to five separate tests within the last two weeks.
We can only hope that the new main event (and any very last-minute co-main event) is a fair one. UFC 200 is still a landmark MMA event, and it’s unfortunate that it would be marred by a doping scandal. Jeff Novitzky, UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance, said there would be a full legal review process before any decision would be made about Jon Jones’ alleged doping violation.
What do you think of the Jon Jones violation situation? If a review determines he’s guilty, do you believe Jones should get a two-year ban? Please share your thought below!
[Photo by John Locher/AP Images]