By: Dennis Guillermo
After multiple drug tests, screenings and a lengthy 3-hour hearing, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones finally caught a break. The UFC light heavyweight champion tensely sat across the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) on Tuesday and was granted a one-fight license and will officially headline UFC 235 on March 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas opposite Anthony Smith.
Jones (23-1-0), whose career has been derailed by drug testing issues, tested positive multiple times prior to his December 29 victory against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 for trace amounts of a long-term metabolite of oral Turinabol (a banned M3 steroid metabolite at a picogram/M1 level). Though Jones was later on cleared to fight, the UFC had to move the entire card from Nevada to California on short notice due to the drug tests.
“Thank you so much to USADA. Thank you to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, my team, the UFC, mainly the fans and everyone sticking by me throughout this process, allowing me to say my peace, allowing me to go through this process, eventually proving my innocence,” Jones said in a statement after the hearing.
“I’m super grateful to be back fighting in Nevada. I’m excited for March 2. It’s going to be a magnificent event. Just looking forward to all the testing. Looking forward to getting back in front of the fans and putting on great fights,” he added.
“This is on you,” NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell told Jones. “It’s on your shoulders. I like what I hear, I like what I see, but the proof’s in the pudding.”
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) deemed that the substance found in Jones’ tests were remnants of the same substance which already caused him to serve a 15-month suspension for failing a drug test after his UFC 214 win against Daniel Cormier. That fight result was later on overturned.
His upcoming opponent, Smith (31-13-0), made it clear last week on social media that he couldn’t care less about Jones’ drug testing saga.
“If you’re hitting me up about this, don’t. I truly don’t care. Picograms, no picograms, Olympic sized swimming pools, grains of salt.” Smith posted on his Twitter account on January 23.
Smith is on an impressive three-fight win streak with KO wins over former light heavyweight champs, Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans.
As part of his conditional one-fight license moving forward, NSAC has ordered Jones to be tested at least twice a month and will be closely monitoring levels of the M3 metabolite in his system which should remain consistent with his results in the previous 18 months.