UFC 232: Main event featuring Jon Jones vs Alex Gustafsson moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles because of drug issue


UFC 232: Main event featuring Jon Jones vs Alex Gustafsson moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles because of drug issue

Jon Jones’ rematch with with Alexander Gustafsson, as well as the rest of the UFC 232 card, will now take place in California.

The extraordinary move to change venue a week before the event is because the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) will not sanction the fight as a result of a drug-testing abnormality in a sample from Jones earlier this month.

Jon Jones’ rematch with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 will now take place in California instead of Nevada

That result showed the presence of the same long-term M3 metabolite Jones tested positive for in July 2017, prior to a title fight against Daniel Cormier.

Back then, Jones was stripped of the light heavyweight title and handed a 15-month suspension from The US anti-doping agency (USADA), which he has since served.

USADA ultimately ruled the circumstances of the case did not suggest intentional doping, but that the metabolite is still a banned substance.

As reported by ESPN – where UFC president Dana White broke the news of the change of location – in an ensuing investigation of the 9 December test results, USADA ruled the trace amount found in Jones’s system is consistent with “residual amounts” of the initial 2017 test, meaning the low amount does not suggest Jones re-administered a parent drug, with White stressing the fighter did not test positive again.

But because the NAC does not have proper time to investigate the issue in the middle of Christmas, the UFC decided to move the entire event to The Forum in Inglewood, California.

UFC VP of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky, echoed White’s point that Jones has not tested positive.

“There’s been no violation of the anti-doping program,” he said.

“He’s been cleared to fight in terms of the USADA program… USADA fully analysed it internally. They reached out to outside experts from around the world. They reached out to another sports league that has seen the same issue. And all of them, independent of us, determined that this was not a re-ingestion of the substance and this very, very small amount that was occurring and still showing up, according to these expects from around the world, did not provide any performance-enhancing benefit.”

Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson is Jones’ opponent

Jones v Gustafsson is the main event at UFC 232 on 29 December and White said fans who bought tickets to watch the fight in Las Vegas will get a full refund and the organisation will work out a way to get those who want to follow the event to California a seat in the Forum.

Jones’ posts apology on Instagram

“How’s it going everybody? It’s your boy ‘Bones’ Jones here. I just wanted to take the time out to apologize to the fans for what is going on. This is a situation that is completely out of my control. But I still will man up and apologize for this happening. I realize there’s a lot of people who lost out in this situation. People came from Sweden, people came from Brazil, other fighters, I feel you guys’ frustration. Today has been a hell of a day. A hell of a day. Big shock to us all. Spent tears today because I can feel the frustration of the fans and I’m going to do what I can to try to make it right for at least some of you guys. I’ve already taken care of some flights and some tickets for people. So I’m doing what I can to make this right. I just really want to ensure you guys that this is not a mistake I made. Completely out of my control. But I do feel you guys’ pain and I am sincerely sorry. Love you guys and God bless you guys and I guess I’ll see some of you in California. And that’s about it. Alright, I’m gonna try to get some sleep.”

A statement from the NAC said: “Today, Nevada State Athletic Commission (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 this hearing.”