DC: USADA split doesn’t vindicate Jon Jones

Former two-division champion Daniel Cormier voiced his adamant stance: Jon Jones cannot rewrite history, not even with the USADA-UFC split.

In their rematch at UFC 214, Jones won against Cormier by knockout to take back the 205-pound title. But when Jones’ PED test samples tested positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol, the outcome was eventually reversed to a no-contest.

Jones received a 15-month punishment, which was drastically reduced from the four-year maximum when USADA found that Jones had not intentionally taken it.

After learning that USADA’s contract with the UFC will expire at the end of 2023, Jones made it plain that he wanted the Nevada State Athletic Commission to undo the decision and award him his 2017 victory against Cormier.

Cormier emphasizes that USADA’s departure doesn’t absolve the past. Cormier clarified in his response to Jones’ demand that the events that occurred under USADA’s term are not invalid because of the agency’s imminent departure.

During his interview on The MMA Hour, Cormier said: “We can’t recreate history now. We can’t go back and say, ‘I beat USADA.’ It’s not like it didn’t happen. They’re not saying USADA was wrong and anything that happened during the course of the time that USADA was here is null and void.”

“It’s all still relevant, it’s just that they’re not going to be the doping organization used [by the UFC] anymore. That doesn’t mean that anything over the course of time that USADA was in effect is null and void.”

He then highlighted Michael Bisping’s championship win as a testament. According to Cormier,  Bisping’s success stemmed from USADA creating a level playing field by primarily eliminating TRT.

Cormier added: “Because then what? Michael Bisping was never the champ? If not for USADA, Michael Bisping probably would have never won that belt because the moment Michael Bisping got to play on even terms, he beat everyone.”

“Guys were openly saying they were doing TRT. They were openly saying it and then when USADA came, they got rid of it. You remember Cung Le? He was the man. TRT. He openly said he was using TRT. USADA came, Mike beat him, earned the title fight, and became the champ. I’m telling you, bro. It really did level the playing field.”

The Nevada State Athletic Commission decided on February 27, 2014, to ban TRT due to its frequent misuse by athletes.

Jones recently withdrew from UFC 295 due to injury, prompting an interim title matchup between Aspinall and Pavlovich. The promotion scheduled an interim championship match between Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall right away.

Generally, an interim champion usually faces the undisputed champion right away. But UFC CEO Dana White said that Jones vs. Miocic would take place in 2024, with the victor taking on Aspinall in a match for a title unification match.

The choice has drawn a lot of criticism, with many arguing that Jon Jones ought to have vacated his title. Past champions like Jiri Prochazka and Jamahal Hill did that after being sidelined for an extended period of time.

Daniel Cormier had similar opinions on the  situation. He said: “I said before the fight when Sergei lost that this fight was for the undisputed title because if Jones and Stipe are only going to fight each other, then you cannot have Tom Aspinall defend the interim championship.”

“Jones and Stipe don’t need the title to be on the line. They can just fight and that’s enough. Call it for the greatest of all time. It doesn’t matter. Create a belt.”

“Tom Aspinall is the guy that’s going to lead the heavyweight division for years to come, so yes. I believe that he should be the undisputed champion. Jones is the undisputed champion. He earned that in the Octagon by beating Ciryl Gane, but if he’s only going to fight Stipe and that’s not for another 6-8 months, put Tom Aspinall as the champ and I don’t think anybody would bat an eyelash.”