An abnormality in a pre-fight drug test collected from Jon Jones has forced UFC 232 to be moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) reported it found an “extremely low level” steroid metabolite (DHCMT) in a urine sample taken on December 9, the same prohibited substance the American tested positive for in July last year that led to a 15-month retroactive suspension.
The USADA ruled the sample was consistent with residual effects from his prior exposure and Jones obtained no performance enhancement, and therefore would not be sanctioning the former light heavyweight champion.
But a licensing issue in Nevada meant the card – including Jones’ championship shot against Alexander Gustafsson – would be moved from the T-Mobile Arena to The Forum in California, UFC president Dana White told ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Jeff Novitzky, UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance, said the Nevada State Athletic Commission did not have the time to fully investigate the issue ahead of the December 30 bout, but Jones could be granted a licence in California.
In the announcement to the sports programme, Novitzky said: “Both USADA and worldwide anti-doping experts told us this was not a re-ingestion of a prohibited substance, it was remaining effects from the July 2017 positive test – for which he was already sanctioned.”
In a statement, the USADA said: “The level reported was at approximately 60 pg/mL and there was no parent drug or other metabolites of the drug in his sample. As a result of these findings, USADA has determined that Mr Jones is not facing a violation per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”
Jones’s victory over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California, in 2017 was recorded as a no-contest and the UFC stripped him of the championship belt.
Conor McGregor was beaten on his UFC return as Khabib Nurmagomedov delivered a career-best display – but the Russian was seemingly the instigator of a post-fight melee.
McGregor was making his comeback to mixed martial arts after a near two-year hiatus but he submitted to his rival’s rear-naked choke midway through the fourth round at UFC 229 in Las Vegas.
Watch picture highlights of the bout below:
Conor McGregor makes his much-anticipated UFC comeback this weekend when he takes on Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The brash Irishman is coming off a near two-year lay-off in the octagon and is jumping in at the deep end, choosing to return against the man who succeeded him as lightweight champion.
Ahead of what has been billed as the biggest UFC fight of all-time, we look at five of McGregor’s standout victories within the organisation.
Max Holloway (TD Garden, Boston, August 2013)
A unanimous decision over a prospect who had seven wins and two losses does not appear to be remarkable at first glance, but Holloway has since gone on to establish himself among the company’s finest fighters, with 12 successive wins taking him to the top of the featherweight pile.
It was at the 145lb-limit where these two future stars faced off and McGregor, a little more than three months on from his UFC debut, was taken the distance for the first time in his 16th mixed martial arts contest.
Victory was all the more impressive because he tore his anterior cruciate ligament at the halfway stage.
Chad Mendes (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, July 2015)
McGregor had positioned himself into featherweight title contention with technical knockouts of Dustin Poirier and Dennis Siver.
But a bout against champion Jose Aldo was scotched due to the Brazilian’s rib injury, leaving McGregor to take on late replacement and number one contender Mendes for the interim strap.
A bruising encounter came to a head when a trademark one-two from McGregor floored Mendes, who was caught with several more blows before the referee stepped in with three seconds left in the second round.
Jose Aldo (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, December 2015)
The hype around McGregor was growing rapidly and hit new heights with this 13-second blowout of a champion who boasted a 10-year unbeaten streak that spanned 18 fights.
A picture perfect left cross knocked out the Brazilian before he hit the floor to signal an emphatic conclusion to a rivalry that had been building for months.
With this win, McGregor proved he could back up his bravado and the 1.2million pay-per-view buys was a UFC record for a non-heavyweight contest, proving the charismatic Dubliner was one of the company’s most bankable attractions.
Nate Diaz (T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, August 2016)
Five months on from a shock first defeat in the UFC, McGregor returned to Sin City and the welterweight limit – 25 pounds heavier than where he reigned at featherweight.
McGregor, as he did in the first bout, started the rematch strongly and floored his rival three times inside the opening two rounds.
The resilient Diaz, though, absorbed the punishment and took advantage of his opponent’s fatigue to finish the fight on top, only to lose a majority decision.
McGregor proclaimed “the king is back” after topping a bill that generated a UFC record 1.65m PPV buys.
Eddie Alvarez (Madison Square Garden, New York, November 2016)
Unsurprisingly, McGregor was the headliner as the UFC was staged in the Big Apple for the first time and he marked the occasion by joining all-time greats Randy Couture and BJ Penn in winning UFC titles across two weight classes, while he was the first to hold two belts at the same time.
Alvarez, like many before him, was unable to handle the power of his foe and was knocked down three times in the opening round before being stopped three minutes into the second.
McGregor therefore proved he was the man to beat at both featherweight and lightweight in what would prove to be his last UFC outing for almost two years.