Less than 12 hours after the announcement that rocked the mixed martial arts world, an emotional Jon Jones broke his silence about the positive USADA test that led to his removal from the main event of UFC 200.
"I want to first start by apologizing to all of the fans who came out and supported me for UFC 200, and obviously the UFC and the Fertittas for not being able to perform," Jones said Thursday. "I know they spent a lot to promote this event. Daniel Cormier, I want to apologize to Daniel Cormier. I know that this fight means a lot to him. The fight means a lot to me and the fight is not happening. So I just want to apologize everyone sincerely."
In a stunning turn of events, Jones was pulled from his rematch against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 late Wednesday night after being flagged in a positive drug test administered by USADA on June 16. Jones on Thursday denied knowingly taking any illegal substance, however both he and his management declined to specify the substance that resulted in the failed test.
Jones' manager, Malki Kawa, stated that Jones has requested to get his B sample tested. He expects the result of that test to come back by Thursday night.
If the result of Jones' B sample comes back positive, Jones could potentially face a two-year suspension from the sport. The sentence could potentially be reduced if Jones' test is found to be the result of a tainted supplement, similar to the recent cases of fellow UFC fighters Tim Means and Yoel Romero.
"I've been taking the same supplements for the majority of my career and I've been so outspoken about being against any type of performance enhancers," Jones said. "I'm still to the day against performance enhancers. And so the one thing that sucks, being labeled as someone who cheats, it hurts me more than anything else I've ever been through in my career."
Jones noted that he had not spoken to UFC President Dana White, but talked to UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and apologized. He said that he was "devastated" to learn of the test result while getting ready to cut weight on Wednesday night, stating that he felt like he had to re-climb up a ladder after everything that happened over the past year. He also insisted that he wanted to be optimistic and continue to fight.
At one point, Jones walked out of the press conference. He returned several minutes later, but grew emotional when asked what his message to Cormier was, saying through tears that he wanted to apologize to his longtime rival for ruining what was expected to be the biggest opportunity and payday of either man's career.
"I just want to tell him I'm sorry," Jones said of Cormier through tears. "I know this fight meant a lot to him."
When asked about his supplement use, Jones said there were a "few things that have nothing to do with performance" he took during camp, but that he and his team were working to pinpoint what caused the failed test. He repeatedly insisted he would "never take anything to enhance" his performance.
"I wouldn't cheat," Jones said. "That's not who I am."
Kawa stated that Jones has been tested eight times by USADA since the end of 2015.
Jones said he expects his interim UFC light heavyweight title to be vacated, but ultimately that decision will be up to the UFC. He planned to leave Las Vegas today to meet with his probation officer in Albuquerque, NM, and insisted that even if he receives a two-year suspension, this situation did not mark the end to his time in the sport.
"For all of the people who believed in me, continue to believe in me, because this story isn't over and the best is yet to come," Jones said.
"Let's figure out what this is before passing judgement and figure out what's going on. I think people who are fans of mine know that I'm a fighter, and that adversity is not something that defeats me and I am hard to be broken."