Late Tuesday night (Irish time), the UFC announced that it was indefinitely suspending and stripping Jon “Bones” Jones of the light heavyweight title which he defended as the youngest ever UFC Champion for over four years and eight superb defences. Pound for pound, Jones has been the ultimate warrior of the UFC, dealing with everything thrown at him in a stacked division.
Jones met with UFC heads Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta after he posted bail and was released from police custody. He has been charged with a hit and run after leaving the scene of an accident causing death or personal injuries after he crashed his SUV into a pregnant woman’s car on Sunday morning. The woman sustained non-life threatening injuries but did break her arm. Jones turned himself in to authorities on Monday after a warrant for his arrest was issued.
“UFC announced that it has suspended Jon Jones indefinitely and stripped him of the light heavyweight title as a result of violations of the organization’s Athlete Code of Conduct Policy,” the statement read. “Jones was recently arrested in Albuquerque, N.M., on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury. As a result of the charge and other violations of the Athlete Code of Conduct Policy, the organization believes it is best to allow Jones time to focus on his pending legal matters.
“UFC feels strongly that its athletes must uphold certain standards both in and out of the Octagon. While there is disappointment in the recent charges, the organization remains supportive of Jones as he works through the legal process.
“With this decision, UFC has determined that No. 1 contender Anthony Johnson will now fight No. 3 contender Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas.”
Sadly, Jones has constantly been in the limelight for the wrong reasons. In 2012, he drove his Bentley into a pole while under the influence and lost his driving licence for six months. Jones caused the first ever cancellation of a UFC card at UFC 151 when he refused to fight “the American Gangster” Chael Sonnen as a last minute replacement for the injured Dan Henderson, an action widely condemned by the entire UFC community.
“This is one of the most selfish, disgusting decisions that doesn’t just affect you. This is affecting 16 other lives, their families, kids are going back to school. The list goes on and on of all the things, the money that was spent for fighters to train and the list goes on and on. Like I said, I don’t think this is going to make Jon Jones popular with the fans, sponsors, cable distributors, television network executives or other fighters.” Dana White (UFC President)
While promoting UFC 178, Jones and Daniel Cormier started a brawl that was sparked by Jones pressing his forehead against Cormier’s during a staredown. The light-heavyweights ripped down the stage and struggled to be subdued, as you can see below. Both men were given a $50,000 fine and 40 hours of community service by the Nevada Athletic Commission for their actions.
Most crucially however, Jones was found to have failed a drug test prior to UFC182. Bones tested positive for benzoylecgonine, the primary metabolite of cocaine, but because that is not a banned out of competition substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency, Jones could not be halted from fighting at UFC182. Jones subsequently passed the second test post fight and entered rehabilitation as well as being fined $25,000 by the UFC for passing their Code of Conduct policy. However, he only stayed in treatment for one night in what was seen as a weak PR show.
There are two conflicting views in play here. Many think Jones has given up his place as the best martial artist on the planet and has ruined his legacy for good, but some are more forgiving, saying that Jones is not the first fighter to make a mistake.
President Dana White spoke on FoxSports Live last night
“He’s very disappointed. He’s upset. He wanted to go down as one of the greats or the greatest. He’s disappointed, but it is what it is. It is the decision we had to make. For us to go in and have to strip him of his title and suspend him is not fun, but you know what they say: The show must go on. I don’t know what’s going to happen. He needs to focus on his legal matters.”
It appears that while Jones has been suspended indefinitely, the opportunity for him to fight again in the promotion is simply subject to Jones cleaning himself up and letting time heal some of the wound. He broke his silence to take to twitter last night and apologise to his fans and family.
The UFC took no time at all to salvage what was the card of the year either.
FOX Sports 1: Daniel Cormier will replace Jon Jones at UFC 187 and will fight Anthony Johnson
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) April 29, 2015
Forgetting Jones for a moment, this is a great fight in its own right without the title on the line. DC was Jones last challenger for the title, undefeated prior to fighting Bones, and is one of the most renowned names in the UFC. While Anthony Rumble Johnson was being built up as the knockout artist who might be able to take out Jones, in reality, it was the UFC promoting a fight which a fully ready Jones would dominate.
With Jones out, the UFC are losing a lot of money. But, now, we have been blessed with a titanic even war for the title. Improving the odds of a classic, Cormier has been in camp ahead of his bout with Ryan Bader and will be fully physically ready to take on Rumble.
Cormier immediately started talking trash last night, as if this fight now needed any build up after the Jones scandal;
“Jon was the champion. He beat himself. Nobody beat him. I didn’t get the job done January 3rd. It is a tough hill for me to climb. It will not be easy. Jon did this to himself; the belt is not his anymore. So, this is the real championship. I’ll be waiting on the other side with my championship and he can actually challenge me for it.”
Rumble may have something to say about that. His brutal knockout of Jones’ biggest rival (and best challenger to date) Alexander Gustafsson was just physically savage. Johnson (19-4) is 3-0 in the UFC light heavyweight division. He fought for the promotion from 2007 to 2012, primarily as a welterweight. He was fighting at a ridiculously low weight class given his stature and was dropped from the promotion for continuously missing weight. Finally he has found his right balance at the much higher light-heavyweight division and has the heavy-hands power to knock anyone in the world out.
The tragedy at the end of this is that we all get to miss out on at least part of the prime of the best martial artist on the planet. Get well soon Bones.