UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones still hasn’t made a public appearance since word was released over a week ago that he had tested positive for cocaine a month prior to his fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, but it seems his first statement will be coming soon.
Jones entered rehab the same day the results of the drug test were made public, but according to his mother Camille, he checked himself out again the very next day. Needless to say, reactions have been mixed when talking about Jones and whether or not he was taking recovery seriously or if it was just a public relations stunt required because the positive test became public knowledge.
UFC president Dana White appeared on the Jim Rome Show on Thursday where he addressed the Jones’ rumors and stated that the champion will be talking soon enough to explain how everything went down.
"He has taken this seriously and when he comes out and speaks — I’m not going to speak for Jon Jones — when Jon Jones comes out and speaks and he will soon, he can clear all that up," White said on Thursday. "Jon Jones has been one of the most amazing talents we’ve ever seen. He’s the pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world, he’s defended the title more than anybody in that weight class, but he’s been a bit of a handful.
My thing is whether you have a problem with street drugs or not, you say you don’t have a problem, there’s something definitely wrong if you’re doing that three weeks before the biggest fight of your life
— Dana White
"He’s a young guy with an extreme amount of talent and has done incredible things, but he’s been a bit of a handful."
The test results from the Nevada State Athletic Commission were returned to the UFC on December 23, less than two weeks out from the scheduled fight between Jones and top ranked contender Daniel Cormier and White says he was just as shocked as anybody.
"Obviously I was horrified," White said. "I didn’t see that one coming, I didn’t expect that. They’re testing for PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) and three weeks before the biggest fight of his life against probably the toughest guy he’s ever fought, and I didn’t expect to see that result, no."
Just doing cocaine doesn’t necessarily make someone an addict so it’s impossible to know what Jones was going through or thinking when he took the drug in the first place, but White says the real problem with the entire situation is the timing of everything.
Whether Jones has a serious issue with drugs or not is a subject White isn’t going to discuss in public, but the fact that the light heavyweight champion tested positive for cocaine a month out from a fight is a major concern no matter how it happened.
"We’ve had many conversations since that happened and my thing is whether you have a problem with street drugs or not, you say you don’t have a problem, there’s something definitely wrong if you’re doing that three weeks before the biggest fight of your life," White said.
"I didn’t know if he had a problem with street drugs, but there’s some type of a problem. There’s some problem somewhere if you’re doing that three weeks before the biggest fight of your life against a guy like Daniel Cormier. So we’re getting to the bottom of that now."
White has talked to Jones numerous times over the course of the past 10 days since the story became public knowledge. He believes following their conversations that Jones will bounce back from this and return even stronger, but ultimately how he recovers from this situation is still up to him.
Jones is not only one of the best fighters on the planet, but he’s also very well paid and only 27-years old to boot. The combination of stardom and a lot of cash has taken down more than just a few top athletes over the course of sports history.
"Here’s the thing you’ve got to understand — he’s young, he has a lot of money, this kid’s probably got $15 million in the bank, he was living in his hometown, all of his buddies that he grew up with were hanging out with him everyday. He’s made this commitment now to move down to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he trains and he’s going to stay in shape year round. He seems like he has all the right intentions, but we’ll find out," White said.
As far as any repercussions stemming from this situation, White didn’t make it sound like Jones would face any kind of internal punishment for the infraction from the UFC. White reiterated that the winner of next weekend’s main event on FOX UFC Fight Night from Sweden between Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson would face Jones later this year with the light heavyweight title up for grabs.
In terms of any additional support, the UFC will help Jones in any way he needs, but when it’s all said and done, he will make his own personal choices — good or bad — and he’ll have to live with the consequences.
"I do the best that I can to guide guys and help them however I can, but at the end of the day, they’re grown men and they’re going to make their own decisions," White said. "Whenever guys get into tax trouble it’s like ‘why didn’t you help them pay their taxes?’. Well, they’re grown men. We do everything we can. We’ve got 576 guys under contract and you do the best you can to help guys in all different aspects of their lives, but what it really comes down to is they’re grown men."