In a stunning move, the UFC is moving this Saturday’s pay-per-view card from Las Vegas to Inglewood, California to ensure that Jon Jones can fight on the show.
In a report from Brett Okamoto at ESPN, USADA reported an “atypical result” found in a pre-fight drug test submitted by Jon Jones on December 9th. The “atypical result” was the presence of M3, a metabolite of DHCMT, that he tested positive for in July 2017 that led to his win over Daniel Cormier being overturned and a 15-month suspension.
USADA notified the Nevada State Athletic Commission of their findings this past Thursday of the metabolite. USADA stated that they believed the low level found is believed to be a residual amount from initial findings in 2017 and Jones has already been sanctioned for that infraction. They added that Jones “obtained no performance enhancement from this level” with the drug test revealing an approximate level of 60 pg/mL and therefore, is not facing a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.
Because of the short window before Jones’ fight with Alexander Gustafsson and this being a holiday week, the commission in Nevada could not evaluate this case and be able to grant Jones a license to fight on Saturday.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission released the following statement:
Today, NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett announced that, in consultation with NSAC Commission Chair Anthony Marnell III, unarmed combatant Jon Jones will be allowed to withdraw his pending application for licensure, which was intended to clear him to fight in a major contest in Nevada later this month. After extensive analysis of Mr. Jones’ prior 18 months of USADA in- and out-of-competition anti-doping drug testing results, Director Bennett, Chair Marnell and Mr. Jones agree that he will appear at an evidentiary hearing in January. This will allow for a measured, thoughtful and comprehensive discussion of his anti-doping testing protocol and results and provide an opportunity for the NSAC to determine the appropriate path forward for him in Nevada. We look forward to his hearing.”
The decision to move the card to California was finalized after Jones flew to the state and submitted a drug test, which he passed. Andy Foster of the California State Athletic Commission spoke to MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi on the decision to allow Jones to fight this weekend in the state:
We’ve got a statement from three different scientists, from the [WADA-accredited] lab director [at SMRTL in Salt Lake City] saying there’s no evidence of any new ingestion. This isn’t a new thing. This is what he’s been punished for already. He’s already served his time on this.
Jones has already undergone an adjudication process within the state of California, so the state is familiar with the case and granted him a license earlier this month.
Full refunds are available for those that bought tickets to the event at the T-Mobile Arena and tickets to the event at the Forum in Inglewood will go on sale this Wednesday.
The logistics of moving this card, on the week of Christmas, is daunting, to say the least. This will affect all the fighters and their corners having to relocate, fans that had purchased tickets and some flying in for the card on vacation, the UFC moving their production to a different state and hundreds of logistical elements that will make this among the most stressful weeks for the UFC in its history.