68°F
weather icon Clear

Jon Jones pulled from UFC 200 after potential doping violation

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been pulled from the main event of UFC 200 because of a potential violation of the organization’s anti-doping policy.

Jones was scheduled to face light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in a rematch for the belt in the main event of the historic card Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

A heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt now will be the main event.

“Very disappointed,” Cormier said of his emotions less than an hour after learning of the cancellation. “I worked really hard to prepare for this. You take care of what you can take care of. That’s what I did. More than anything, I’m just really disappointed.”

The policy, which was enacted in 2015, is independently administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

In a hastily scheduled news conference Wednesday night at the MGM Grand, UFC officials announced an out-of-competition test administered to Jones on June 16 was flagged by USADA.

Jones, who did not attend the news conference, has a right to due process, but officials determined there was not enough time to fully adjudicate the case and made the decision to pull him from the fight.

“It is important to note, that under the UFC anti-doping policy, there’s a full, fair legal-review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed,” Jeff Novitzky, UFC vice president of athlete health and performance, said in announcing the change.

UFC president Dana White said the organization was informed of the potential violation shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“This sucks,” White said when asked what he would tell fans upset by the loss of the long-awaited main event. “It’s unfortunate. I don’t know what to say.”

White said he hoped to find a replacement opponent for Cormier, though he wasn’t overly optimistic on such short notice.

“I’ve trained hard and long,” Cormier said. “If anyone would fight, I’d fight them. Why not? I worked hard and long for this. But if it doesn’t make sense for the UFC and me, then it doesn’t make sense.”

White was at dinner at Mandalay Bay when he received the news. He immediately texted Cormier, who was resting in his hotel room.

He summoned Cormier to the MGM Grand for an 8 p.m. meeting.

“I got a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach,” Cormier said. “I’ve dealt with a lot of negatives in my life, and the mood didn’t feel very good. I was actually early for probably the first time I’ve been early to anything in my life. I just had to find out what it was.”

White said he had not talked to Jones. A representative for Jones said a news conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the MGM Grand, where the fighter is expected to discuss the positive test.

The substance that triggered the failed test was not revealed. Jones faces a suspension of up to two years.

It’s not the first time he has run afoul of the rules.

After Jones defeated Cormier in January 2015, it was revealed he had tested positive for cocaine during an out-of-competition test a month before the fight that wasn’t supposed to be screened for drugs of abuse.

He was stripped of the belt and suspended indefinitely later that year following an arrest on a hit-and-run charge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also pleaded guilty to a DUI in 2012.

The flagged out-of-competition test would appear to indicate a performance-enhancing drug violation, though officials could not confirm that is the case.

Jones returned to win the interim title with a win over Ovince Saint Preux in April and set up the rematch to unify the belts.

“It’s obviously disappointing from a competitive standpoint and a financial standpoint,” Cormier said.

The distraught champion conceded the drug testing program is good for the sport, even though it probably cost him the opportunity to fight on what was expected to be the biggest event in UFC history.

“USADA changes a lot of things,” he said. “They are a great organization that’s going to clean up our sport. You’re going to have casualties. Jon deserves due process. But if this is true, if a guy that’s going to do something that affects you negatively a month before their fight, there’s a good chance they’ll do something that will enhance them, too.”

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
Dana White signs four fighters to the UFC - Video
Four fighters were put under contract with the UFC following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series on Tuesday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Contender Series fighters react to being signed to the UFC
After making history as the first batch of winners to all earn contracts following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series, the fighters react to making it to the UFC.
Dana White signs all five winners at Contender Series
For the first time in the three-season history of Dana White's Contender Series, every winning fighter earned a UFC contract. Maki Pitolo, Joe Solecki, Antonio Trocoli, Hunter Azure and Jonathan Pearce impressed the UFC brass and were awarded contracts by the UFC president.
Jones says he was confident he secured a win over Santos at UFC 239 - Video
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones continued his reign by taking a split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239. He discusses the close call and entertains the idea of a trilogy bout with Daniel Cormier. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 recap: Jones and Nunes retain their titles - VIDEO
Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes both retained their titles at UFC 239. Jones took a decision over Thiago Santos in the main event and Nunes scored a first-round knockout of Holly Holm. Jorge Masvidal also made promotional history on July 6 by scoring a 5-second knockout over Ben Askren. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amanda Nunes on her win over Holly Holm at UFC 239 - Video
Amanda Nunes talks about continuing her reign as a two-division champion in the UFC after defeating Holly Holm with a head kick in the first round of their title bout at UFC 239. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239: Masvidal makes UFC history with 5-second knockout - Video
Jorge Masvidal discusses his history-making knockout of Ben Askren at UFC 239 and makes his case for a shot at the welterweight title next. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fighters at UFC 239 react to the 7.1 earthquake - Video
Fighters at UFC 239 talk about what they experienced when the 7.1 earthquake was felt in Las Vegas on Friday night. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Ceremonial Weigh-in Staredowns - Video
All fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena faced off against each other one last time before their bouts take place. In the main event, Jon Jones will put his light heavyweight belt on the line against Thiago Santos. In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes will look to continue her reign as the women's bantamweight champion when she takes on Holly Holm.
UFC 239: Jon Jones says he wants to make a statement - VIDEO
Prior to UFC 239, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones says he's trying to challenge himself, set his own records to establish his legacy and explains how he's become comfortable with where he is in his career. He will put his title on the line in the main event against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Official Weigh-in Results
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena made weight at the official weigh-in at the New York-New York hotel-casino on Friday. The main event features UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones putting his belt on the line against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Preview: Jones vs. Santos
Prior to UFC 239, the Review-Journal's Adam Hill and Heidi Fang break down the main event between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos for the light heavyweight title, the co-main championship tilt between Holly Holm and reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes, and preview a feature bout between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 media day: Masvidal says he has faced tougher competition than Askren
Ahead of facing rising UFC welterweight Ben Askren, promotional veteran Jorge Masvidal says he's faced tougher opponents in the past. Askren says don't be shocked by his approach to the fight at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Jones thanks fans for support through his dark times
At UFC 239 open workouts, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones thanked fans for their support during his "controversial moments" and says he wants to be more active through 2020. His challenger Thiago Santos says he will "shock the world" on July 6 and be the new division champion. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Holm wants to shock her naysayers
Holly Holm will look to reclaim the UFC women's bantamweight title when she faces two-division champion Amanda Nunes in the co-main event of UFC 239 at the T-Mobile Arena on July 6. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
White: I'm looking for different things on this show - VIDEO
UFC president Dana White spoke with media following the second episode of the third season of his show "Dana White's Contender Series". He explained why he signed the two fighters he did after their performances and discussed the heat he's taking for not signing Brendan Loughnane last week. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Weili Zhang seeks UFC belt, history

The 30-year-old could become the first Chinese fighter to win a UFC title when she faces Jessica Andrade for the women’s strawweight title on Saturday