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Looking at the Jon Jones USADA Decision



In just over a month, Jon Jones, the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, will be eligible to compete again, which was announced earlier this week by USADA, determining that a 15-month retroactive suspension is appropriate for his second PED violation.

A second PED violation could lead to a 4-year suspension from competition so how exactly did Jon Jones get such a short ban from the sport?

The answer is sadly a combination of greed and corruption.

After years of rumors about some mixed martial arts fighters using performance enhancing substances, the UFC announced its testing program in association with USADA in 2015. Not surprisingly, there were more fighters flagged for potential violations since that time, and coincidentally, some fighters ability decreased significantly afterwards. For example, Johnny Hendricks, former contender in the welterweight division, went 1-6 in the octagon after the start of the USADA program in the UFC.

The anti-doping association can clearly be effective.

That’s why this ruling for Jon Jones and the motivation behind is so puzzling. “Bones” Jones has made headlines throughout his entire career, starting with his victory against the legendary Shogun Rua in 2011 to claim the 205 LBS championship and become the youngest champion in the history of the organization. Since that time, “Bones” made headlines for all the wrong reasons and is arguably more well-known for his mishaps outside of the cage than his accomplishments in the sport. The first of his laundry list of legal problems was when he was arrested for DUI after he hit a pole in 2012. He tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition test prior to his fight against Daniel Cormier in early 2015.

Just three months later, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run incident when he run a red light, hitting another car before he fled the scene of the accident. Drug paraphernalia was found in the car and he was eventually sentenced to probation for leaving the scene. The legal problems prompted UFC management to strip him of the light heavyweight title.


He finally returned to the octagon in April of 2016, defeating Ovince Saint Preux to claim an interim championship, setting up a unification fight against Cormier for UFC 200. Just a month before he was scheduled to compete again, “Bones” was cited for driving without a license, but that didn’t affect his status to fight. However, a few days before UFC 200, it was announced that Jones tested positive for PEDs and the Cormier rematch was cancelled. Again, UFC brass stripped him of a championship.

As a result of the failed test, Jones was suspended for a year. When he finally returned to the cage for the Cormier rematch last year, he won the fight via a head kick in the third round and touted his redemption story during a post-fight interview. A few weeks later, it was revealed that Jones failed the post-fight drug test for PEDs. The contest was overturned to a no contest and he was stripped of the championship for the third time in his career.

The California State Athletic Commission hearing earlier this year did “Bones” no favors when he couldn’t explain how an anabolic steroid got into his system and he admitted the he didn’t complete the required online courses that USADA provides for athletes, but rather that his management did it for him. The commission stated that they would allow USADA to determine the penalty for Jones, which most expected to be at least a two-year ban and that was if the anti-doping association believed Jones’ excuse that he unknowingly took the PED.


A tainted supplement is possible, but at this point in his career, Jon Jones doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt in these situations. The DUI and hit-and-run scenarios prove that he was reckless and irresponsible in the past. Perhaps, a contaminated supplement might happen once, but after a second failed PED test, does someone with the past of “Bones” Jones deserve the benefit of the doubt?

I usually wouldn’t suggest a conspiracy theory, but something is corrupt about the 15-month retroactive ban that Jones was given for this violation. I’m not saying that the UFC was directly involved, but keep in mind, USADA was hired by the UFC so it certainly seems like there could be a conflict of interest when the anti-doping organization can make decisions that could directly impact the financial aspect of the company that hires them. As mentioned, Jones was suspended for a year after his initial failed test so how exactly did he only get an extra three months for a second violation? Other fighters that failed two tests were suspended for two years so how did Jon Jones get 15-months for the same violation?


The answer is probably that Jon Jones is a bigger name that can draw bigger money for everyone involved when he fights on pay-per-view so he was given a shorter ban to allow the UFC to generate revenue from his bouts. However, “Bones” Jones’ status shouldn’t affect his ban because a violation of the rules is a violation regardless of what fighter fails a test. Obviously, MMA is a very dangerous sport and failed PED tests should be taken very seriously by the UFC. Considering this was a USADA, not UFC decision, it would be reasonable,at this point to question the credibility of the anti-doping organization.

The guidelines for a second failed test suggest at least a ban of a few years from the sport. If Jon Jones fails another test, is it possible that USADA doesn’t report it to allow the company that hired them to continue to cash-in on his fights?

It’s completely possible that the UFC isn’t involved in this corruption, but isn’t it convenient that Jon Jones will be eligible to fight just a few months before Brock Lesnar is scheduled to return to the UFC? Remember, “Bones” said during a post-fight interview last year that he wanted to fight Lesnar, and despite Brock’s confrontation with Daniel Cormier earlier this year, the general consensus is that Lesnar/Jones will draw more money. Who knows how Jon Jones was only given a 15-month suspension, but it’s very disappointing to see that potential profits are the propriety instead of the credibility of the sport.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta


UFC 249 has a long and adventurous story



UFC 249 was originally planned to take place on April 18th in New York but, due to the ongoing pandemic, governor Cuomo restricted mass gatherings and sports events, confining everyone to their homes, leaving them with little more to watch than reruns of old fights and perhaps Game Changers. UFC president Dana White then announced that the event was still on but the location will change. Later, it was announced that it will take place at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. ESPN and its parent company Disney didn’t like this, though, pressuring White to suspend the event for the time being – which he did. Finally, the event was rescheduled for May 9

Meanwhile, interesting news started circulating about a potential location for future UFC fight nights that, if it becomes a reality, might put an interesting spin on the world of mixed martial arts.

UFC Fight Island

Even before the issues with the event, White planned to arrange a brand new location where fight nights could be organized: a private island where athletes could train and fight.

“All the infrastructure is being built right now and getting put in place,” he told the press back in April. “As we get closer to that, then I’ll start figuring out booking fights, getting guys ready. Plus, I can ship guys over there earlier, and they can start training over there, on the island. So, once that’s all in place – we’re looking at like a month – I’ll have that all put together, and guys can start training and can go there.”

The UFC is serious about it: it has already registered several trademarks around the “UFC Fight Island” brand, covering several types of goods, services, even jewelry. 

When, and Where?

The “where” is still a mystery. Although he spoke repeatedly about the arrangements being made for athletes to be able to train and stay on the island, White has not revealed its location yet. Some theorize that it may be somewhere in international waters so it could serve as a place where international athletes could stay without restrictions, perhaps off the coast of California. But this is just a theory – all will probably be revealed in due time.

The “when” is a bit less vague: White told the press that UFC Fight Island will be operational by June. It will have amenities like an Octagon on the beach, and hotels for the fighters to be lodged at. And most importantly, it will allow international fighters to participate in fights, even with the pandemic-related travel restrictions still in place.

The idea of an island dedicated to fighting may sound familiar – it was the topic of the 2006 martial arts movie “DOA – Dead or Alive” and 2007’s “The Condemned”, among others. Let’s hope this one will have a happier ending.

As for UFC 249 ‘Ferguson vs. Gaethje’, that event will now take place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. 

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What Justin Gaethje’s past fights tell us about his chances at UFC 249



It’s fair to say that Justin Gaethje has firmly taken up the role of underdog ahead of his clash with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on May 9th. The latest Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje betting offers present Ferguson as the clear favourite, after his opponent was drafted in at the last minute to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is on lockdown in his home country of Russia. 

Gaethje is relatively inexperienced in the world of UFC, having fought just six times in the competition in the past. But his calibre from prior ventures in MMA, notably the World Series of Fighting, means that he is a fighter not to be trifled with, and while he won’t represent as formidable a challenge for Ferguson as Khabib would have, there is much to admire about the 31-year-old.

To understand fully Gaethje’s chances ahead of UFC 249, it’s important to analyse his performances in recent fights. Indeed, his past three bouts have resulted in impressive victories, with Gaethje winning Performance of the Night awards in two of those fights — against James Vick and Donald Cerrone respectively. 

But his UFC started off in disappointing fashion, with just one win from his first three fights. That victory came against Michael Johnson in the reality show The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale, but from there he failed to gain a strong foothold in the championship. He suffered back-to-back defeats against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, including a knockout at the hands of the former, as he struggled to adapt to the competitive nature of the UFC.

Those defeats obviously shook Gaethje into life, because he has come roaring back in his last three fights, mustering up a trio of impressive performances to bring him to the level he finds himself at today, where UFC chief Dana White is drafting him to replace someone of the calibre of Khabib. 

The first of this trio of victories was a win over James Vick in August 2018, where Gaethje produced a fine display which silenced some of the doubters who had perhaps questioned his ability at the highest level. He won Performance of the Night for that one, and was then involved in the Fight of the Night the following March as he defeated Edson Barboza by knockout in Philadelphia. His most recent victory was a TKO triumph over UFC veteran Donald Cerrone in October last year, where Gaethje once again walked away with the Performance of the Night accolade. 

All three of his most recent wins have come via first round knockout or technical knockout, proof that Gaethje has the ability to overpower opponents in the opening stages of a fight. Of course, to do this against Ferguson will be a whole different ball game, as he is the most high-profile fighter Gaethje has faced so far, but perhaps the key lies in ensuring he comes out all guns blazing early on.

Gaethje’s Performance of the Night wins indicate that he is capable of producing a show-stopping performance on any given night. He is undoubtedly the underdog going into the fight against Ferguson, but with a few good wins now under his belt, who’s to say he can’t spring a surprise on May 9th and truly announce himself in the UFC. 

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UFC to provide a welcome sports fix for hungry fans



UFC 249 had promised to be a rare occasion of a sports event going ahead, but the April 18th showpiece ultimately fell victim to the coronavirus outbreak, and was cancelled. However, UFC chief Dana White is not one to be put out, and so came the recent announcement that there would be a series of UFC fight nights in May.

It’s a great chance for fans to see some sporting action, for fighters to keep in shape and perhaps make a name for themselves in these strange circumstances, and for people stuck in lockdown to have some alternative entertainment, something a bit different from Joe Wicks workouts or Zoom quizzes! Here, we look at why these UFC fight nights will be welcomed by so many people.

Live action

The sporting world has basically been at a standstill since the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe. It feels like an eternity ago that we were watching horse racing’s Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League, but the measures put in place by the government to protect the public meant that most events had to be cancelled. 

And so, the news that there will be some live sporting entertainment in the form of several UFC fight nights will give sports fans that much needed fix of live action. Sports nuts all over the world have been forced to make do with virtual championships and races, or with trawling the archives to reminisce on past sporting occasions, but now White and co. have brought some welcome live sporting action back to our screens.

Mouth-watering match-ups

Of course, these are not just any old fighters going head to head. Some of the best in the business will be battling it out, not least Tony Ferguson who takes on Justin Gaethje on May 9th. The Tony Ferguson odds have him as hot favourite for the bout, but Gaethje will be a man on a mission on fight night to prove he has what it takes to cause a stir at the highest level of the sport. 

May 9th sees two other interesting clashes, as Henry Cejudo takes on Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight Championship, and Francis Ngannou meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The Cejudo vs Cruz fight features two men with similar records, and will therefore be an intriguing clash as both try and prove themselves on the big stage. Meanwhile, Rozenstruik will be trying to defend his 10-fight unbeaten record as he takes on Ngannou, and so there will be plenty on the line in that one.

A welcome distraction

Perhaps one of the key benefits of these fight nights is that they will provide a welcome distraction from the sad news and gloomy headlines we’ve all been reading in recent weeks. Sport has the power to unite people and spark a feel-good factor among the public.

Although the UFC may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a chance for a lot of people to get to know a sport they perhaps wouldn’t have considered watching before, and few sports have to power to grip and entertain like mixed martial arts. Many people are craving a dose of live sporting action, and thanks to the UFC, that sporting fix is not too far away.

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