An emotional Jon Jones broke down in tears as he addressed his removal from the UFC 200 headliner during a press conference at the MGM Grand on Thursday morning.
The UFC interim light heavyweight champion was notified of a potential anti-doping policy violation on Wednesday evening stemming from an out-of-competition drug test on June 16. As a result, the UFC was forced to scrap his matchup with Daniel Cormier and elevate a heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt to the main event of Saturday’s card.
Through it all, Jones denied using performance enhancing drugs.
"The whole situation really sucks. It really sucks, really hurts a lot. They found something in one of my samples that I have no clue what it is,” Jones said. “I don't even know how to pronounce it. I've been taking the same supplements the majority of my career.
“I would never take anything that would enhance my game. Being labeled as someone who would ever cheat, it hurts me more than anything I’ve ever been through in my career.”
If the failed test holds up, Jones could be facing a two-year suspension from USADA. The 28-year-old Jackson-Wink MMA standout said that he would serve his suspension if an appeal is unsuccessful.
“If I do have to sit out for two years, I’ll definitely be back,” he said. “I’m already thinking about the good that can happen. I try to stay optimistic. At the end of the day, I’m a fighter, and even though I may seem broken up here, I’m not broken. I’m just really upset.”
Jones’ manager, Malki Kawa, would not reveal the substance which triggered the positive test, but he did say that Jones’ team has already requested that his ‘B’ sample be tested by USADA.
Jones has never tested positive for PEDs during his UFC career. However, he is not too far removed from a tumultuous 2015 that saw him test positive for cocaine following a win over Cormier at UFC 182 and later be arrested for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident that injured a pregnant woman in Albuquerque, N.M.. As a result of the second incident, Jones was suspended and stripped of his light heavyweight title. He was reinstated after reaching a plea agreement.
“I try to believe that everything happens for a reason and at the end of the day God has a plan for me; he has a plan for us all,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to stay optimistic. I feel like I’ve put in a lot of work to get back to this point. I feel like I have to reclimb a ladder.”
Jones returned to the Octagon on April 23, when he took a unanimous decision triumph over Ovince St. Preux to claim the interim belt at UFC 197. “Bones,” who had to pause to compose himself during the press conference, apologized to Cormier for the lost opportunity.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him. I just want to tell him that I’m sorry,” Jones said. “That’s really it. I know this fight meant a lot to him.”