Over the last week, UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky has tried to explain Jon Jones’ recent positive test for a trace amount of the same metabolite that resulted in a 15-month suspension after his 2017 bout against Daniel Cormier.
The original explanation was this positive test was residual, staying in his system from the first positive test and shouldn’t be ruled as anything irregular. His latest comments, however, may have caused more confusion than necessarily cleaning the situation up. While speaking on The Joe Rogan Experience, Novitzky explained that the December positive findings wasn’t actually the first time it had shown up in his testing, it was actually the third time.
The Dec. 9 test had a range of 60-80 picograms of the same longterm metabolite (coincidentally the same range that resulted in his latest suspension), but USADA ruled that small amount had no performance-enhancing benefit.
While the Nevada State Athletic Commission certainly had some concerns and wanted to hold a hearing before licensing Jones, the California State Athletic Commission had no problem licensing Jones since it was familiar with his original failed test.
That resulted in the entire UFC 232 card shifting from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. In the days after, fighters like Cris Cyborg have expressed frustration over the sudden move, while Jones’ challenger Alexander Gustafsson has straight up called Jones a cheater.
“Yes, I do (believe he’s a cheater),” Gustafsson told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the UFC 232 pre-fight news conference. “Yes I do. This guy is not confident. He has to put (expletive) in his body to be confident. That’s all it is.”
Despite all the controversy surrounding Jones, the former light heavyweight king feels he’s proven he’s clean and shouldn’t have any asterisks next to his name.
“I have completely set myself free from any type of — I listen to fighters from the past be like, ‘This is why he beat me, because he had this in me.’ And I get why they need to do that, to feel better, to feel like I can do it the second time. I get why they’re doin’ that,” Jones said, per MMA Fighting. “But I’ve taken off the asterisk next to what I’ve done. I know what I’ve done. Every pushup, every situp, freaking showing up to practice early, leaving there late, wrestling camp since I was 12 years old, endless tournaments, I know what I’ve done. After beating Gustafsson I’m going to be right back on the track that I’ve always been on, which is being one of the all-time greats and I know that in my heart, no matter who believes me or not.”
Jones and Gustafsson will fight for the vacant light heavyweight title Saturday night at The Forum in Los Angeles.