LAS VEGAS — Jon Jones could face a lengthy suspension from mixed martial arts after the UFC light heavyweight champion was notified Tuesday of his second potential violation of the promotion’s anti-doping policy.
Jones is widely considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, but his potential violation stems from a sample collected after his weigh-in July 28 for his title fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California.
Jones won the fight and reclaimed his 205-pound belt after sitting out the previous year for a failed doping test. The victory appeared to be a return to glory for a long-troubled fighter who has repeatedly hindered his stellar career with misbehaviour outside the octagon.
Jones was stripped of his belt in 2015 after being involved in a hit-and-run accident. He was scheduled to fight Cormier for the title in July 2016, but was pulled from the UFC 200 card for what he claimed was a failed test due to a sexual enhancement pill.
Jones hasn’t yet been stripped of his title for a second time, UFC President Dana White said. Cormier held the belt for most of Jones’ absence, and he had said he didn’t plan to retire after his second loss to Jones.
Jones’ camp and his manager, Malki Kawa, released a statement: “We are all at a complete loss for words right now. Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months to avoid this exact situation. We are having the samples tested again to determine the validity or source of contamination. Jon is crushed by this news and we are doing whatever we can as a team, to support him.”
If the violation is confirmed, Jones seems likely to face a multiyear suspension from the sport, taking away even more of his fighting prime. The UFC also will be harmed by the lengthy absence of its best fighter and a burgeoning pay-per-view draw.
The UFC also could lose its dream matchup between Jones and former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. The superstars both appeared eager to meet next year in a heavyweight fight that would be among the biggest events in the UFC’s history.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency administers the UFC’s doping policy. The California State Athletic Commission has jurisdiction over Jones’ test along with USADA.