Jon 'Bones' Jones: Recapping the UFC 232 star's most controversial moments
Love him or hate him, you just can't ignore Jon Jones. The former UFC champion is widely considered to be one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, but his career has also been plagued by a host of controversial moments.
From a string of road traffic incidents to failed drug tests, Jones had enough controversies to fill a dozen careers. But here, as we prepare to witness the former UFC light-heavyweight champion's long-awaited return at UFC 232 on December 29, we look back at the controversies that helped define his checkered UFC career.Also on rt.com UFC 232 switched from Las Vegas to Los Angeles after Jon Jones submits abnormal drug test
1. THE DAY HE REFUSED TO FIGHT
Jones' first major run-in with the UFC came in 2012 when he was all set to face MMA legend Dan Henderson in a UFC light-heavyweight title defense at UFC 151.
But when Henderson was forced off the card during fight week, UFC officials moved quickly to install a replacement, with Chael Sonnen agreeing to step up and take the fight on short notice.
However, while Sonnen was happy to jump into a title fight unprepared and with just a few days' notice, Jones wasn't keen on facing a different opponent and refused the fight.
It left the UFC with a quandary. With the rest of the fight card seemingly considered not strong enough to continue without Jones at the top of the bill, the UFC took the unprecedented decision to cancel an event for the first time in their history.
Cancelled event prompted UFC president Dana White to call Jones' refusal to defend his title "one of the most selfish, disgusting decisions." Promotion's boss criticized him for taking a decision that "is affecting 16 other lives, their families and kids. 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."
White continued: "I don't think this is going to make Jon Jones popular with the fans, sponsors, cable distributors, television network executives or other fighters."
2. THE BRAWL IN THE MGM ENTRANCE HALL
Perhaps the first notorious moment of Jones' UFC career came during the build-up for his UFC 178 clash with Daniel Cormier.
The pair were set to face off in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas, but when they went face to face on stage in front of a packed hotel entrance hall, Jones put his head on Cormier's, and all hell broke loose.
A shoving match ensued, which sent both fighters and UFC's head of PR Dave Sholler flying off stage. The ugly incident saw Jones fined $50,000 for his role in the melee.
The fight ended up being rescheduled to UFC 182, with Jones running out the unanimous decision winner.
3. THE ONE-DAY REHAB STINT
In January 2015 it was announced that Jones had tested positive for a cocaine metabolite ahead of his bout with Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.
However, because this was an out-of-competition test and cocaine is not banned out of competition, no sporting sanctions were imposed. The UFC did fine him $25,000 for breaching their athlete code of conduct.
Jones stated publicly that he is "not a cocaine addict by any means or not even a frequent user. I just made a really dumb decision and got caught with my pants down in this whole situation."
He then checked himself into a rehab facility - for one night.
4. THE HIT AND RUN
In September 2016 Jones pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after being involved in a hit-and-run incident that left a pregnant woman with a broken arm.
It transpired that Jones had fled the scene after the crash, only to briefly return to retrieve cash from his car before fleeing again. Officers who attended the scene also discovered a marijuana pipe and cannabis.
Jones was given an 18-month probation and was suspended indefinitely by the UFC. That ban was lifted once his probation was completed and he was set to make his comeback against old rival Cormier at UFC 200. But more drama was just around the corner...
5. THE UFC 200 SHOW-STOPPER
With the rivalry between Cormier and the returning Jones building to fever pitch, a huge rematch was booked for the main event of one of the biggest UFC shows ever, UFC 200.
But just three days from fight night in Las Vegas, the media was called to a hastily-assembled press conference for an unknown reason.
And when the UFC's head of athlete health and development Jeff Novitzky walked into the room, everybody knew an anti-doping violation was coming. When the offending athlete was confirmed as Jones, the room was stunned.
Jones and his team went on to hold a tearful press conference the following morning as the enormity of his indiscretion caught up with him.
It forced the UFC to strip Jones of his light-heavyweight title and hastily arrange a reshuffle of the historic fight card, which had been built around the highly-anticipated Jones-Cormier rematch.
Cormier moved down the card to face Anderson Silva, while the UFC women's bantamweight title fight between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes headlined the event at the T-Mobile Arena.
It was later revealed that Jones had tested positive for clomiphene and letrozole, which Jones pleaded were ingested as part of a contaminated sexual performance tablet.
After USADA tested the substance and found it to be contaminated, the anti-doping administrators handed Jones a reduced, one-year suspension after after an arbitration hearing stated he did not knowingly take the banned substances intentionally.
6. THE CURTAILED COMEBACK
Jones served his suspension and was immediately rebooked to face Cormier in the main event of UFC 217. At that time Cormier had captured the vacant light-heavyweight title and was seeking to for closure in his rivalry with Jones.
But Jones came back in phenomenal form and spectacularly knocked out Cormier, finishing the fight with a devastating head kick.
As a shell-shocked Cormier stood in tears after the contest, Jones celebrated with the championship belt.
But Jones' joy was to be short-lived, as news broke of yet another failed drug test. Jones tested positive for anabolic steroid turinabol and was immediately stripped of the title for the second time in his career. The result of the fight was reverted to a no-contest.
A four-year suspension seemed likely, but Jones' team successfully lobbied USADA, arguing the substance was unknowingly ingested. After a lengthy arbitration and review process, USADA announced Jones would serve a 15-month suspension, back-dated to the date of his failed test.
7. JONES' ABNORMAL TEST SENDS UFC 232 TO LOS ANGELES
With his suspension served and a light-heavyweight title fight rematch with Alexander Gustafsson booked for UFC 232 on December 29, 2018, everything finally seemed to be back on course for Jones.
Then news broke on December 23 that Jones had submitted an abnormal pre-fight drug test that, although it was not considered a USADA anti-doping violation, was still enough to raise concerns with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who refused to clear Jones for the Las Vegas event.
With the UFC convinced Jones was clear of any wrongdoing, and clean of any substance that could offer any performance-enhancing benefits, they instead took the unprecedented decision to move the event from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, with the blessing and the backing of the California State Athletic Commission.
The move prompted a huge negative reaction online from fighters and fans. A number of fighters in particular took to social media to voice their displeasure at the situation, as fighters, teams, families and fans were all forced to cancel and rebook their travel plans to get to the newly-arranged venue on December 29.Also on rt.com 'Ultimate F*****G Cheaters': Fighters queue up to criticize UFC over Jon Jones’ case
Now Jones heads to California for UFC 232, where he will take on old foe Gustafsson for the UFC light-heavyweight world title at The Forum in Inglewood.
The venue may have changed, but the fight remains on. And if Jones' career to date is any guide, we'll be talking about "Bones" after the contest, regardless of the final result.