As Jon Jones’ Octagon return against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 draws near, the former light heavyweight champion will make more and more appearances on national media shows to address his history with USADA and two failed drug tests within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday, Jones responded to skeptics who don’t believe has been a clean athlete. “Bones” was specifically asked to address comments from rival Daniel Cormier, who has been outspoken in his belief that Jones is not innocent.
“Screw Daniel Cormier,” Jones said. “Screw Daniel Cormier. My last situation was a terrible situation, steroid allegation type of thing. It wasn’t an allegation — I did have a trace amount of steroids in my body. Thank goodness USADA went through their whole process to prove my innocence. Through science, we were able to prove that there was a very trace amount of steroids in my body. One of the people said, ‘The amount of steroids in Jon’s body was like taking a pinch of salt and throwing it into an Olympic-sized swimming pool.’
“And that’s something that, we have no clue how it got into my body. We did everything in our power to figure out how it got into my body, where this came from. I’ve spent thousands of thousands of dollars throughout all of this, testing and getting supplements tested. We were still not able to figure out where it came from.”
Jones continued to trumpet USADA’s ruling as evidence of his innocence, claiming that the organization doesn’t make mistakes.
“You look at the science. Instead of judging and just saying, ‘Oh, this guy’s lying, because he’s always been a winner,’ you look at the science and USADA is a credible drug-testing agency,” Jones added. “They always have been. They tested Lance Armstrong and just lots of great athletes, the highest-level athletes throughout history, and they don’t make mistakes. So the fact that I’m here back fighting is because they don’t make mistakes and I was able to be proven innocent.”
Jones received a reduced suspension from USADA for his latest transgression at UFC 214, where he tested positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol. He previously failed a drug test in relation to UFC 200, testing positive for estrogen blockers in relation to that event. As a second-time offender, Jones was facing a potential four-year sanction. Instead, he got a 15-month suspension, as USADA determined Jones didn’t intentionally ingest the banned substance and also credited the fighter for providing “substantial assistance” in other anti-doping investigations.
Cormier is far from the only skeptic when it comes to Jones. The Jackson-Wink MMA representative is well aware of the critics, many of whom he believes simply don’t want to recognize his dominance in the UFC for what it is. Heading into UFC 232, Jones admits that he may have an even bigger chip on his shoulder than he has in the past.
“I feel like people have always wanted to kind of say, ‘Well, the reason why he’s so good is because his brother is around the NFL,’ or, ‘He’s so good because he has really long arms,’” Jones said. “People have always made excuses for my success instead of just saying, ‘You know what? This guy is actually really intelligent. He has a really good fight IQ, and this is what makes him a champion.’ I feel like I have a lot to prove. I’ve always had a lot to prove.”
For Jones, UFC 232 represents an opportunity for him to begin to re-establish his legacy as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound talents of all-time. In the end, he believes his performance will speak for itself.
“What I have to do is I’ve got to go out there and be exactly who I am, exactly who I’ve always been,” Jones said. “I know in my spirit that I’ve never cheated in this sport. Like I said, USADA was able to prove that it was a such trace amount that it had no effect on my performance. I’ve always passed every drug test.
“I am the best fighter in the sport,” Jones added. “I always have been the best fighter in the sport. Nothing’s changed, so I should perform in exactly the way that I’ve always.”