LAS VEGAS (AP) – UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was granted a one-fight license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday, clearing way for his title defense against Anthony Smith at UFC 235 on March 2.
Jones had a hearing in front of the commission regarding the M3 metabolite, oral turinabol, for which he tested positive prior to his fight against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Dec. 29, originally set for Las Vegas.
The NSAC did not license Jones to fight in Nevada due to the unknown circumstances of why he tested positive for the same substance that got him suspended for 15 months in July 2017. The commission did not know of the test results until Dec. 21.
That event was moved to Southern California, and Jones defeated Gustafsson by knockout in the third round to reclaim the vacated title once held by Daniel Cormier.
“Thank you so much to USADA, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, my team, the UFC, mainly the fans and everyone sticking by me throughout this process, allowing me to say my piece, allowing me to go through this process, eventually proving my innocence,” Jones said following the hearing.
Jones was granted the license upon the conditions that he must be tested at least twice a month until the end of the year. Those tests will be administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) and any other athletic commission he’s licensed with. Jones will pay for those tests himself leading up to UFC 235.
Those results will be reported to the NSAC, which will conduct its own tests of Jones upon its discretion.
“At the end of the day, I feel very confident that he does not have any performance-enhancing capabilities when he walks into the Octagon come March 2 if the tests continue to stay consistent,” said NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell III. “I’m confident that the frequency in which he will be tested for 12 months, we will have a better set of data.”
Jones told the commission that he never took oral turinabol, but is unsure how the substance entered his system.
“It’s the fight capital of the world,” Jones said in his testimony on why he enjoys fighting in Nevada. “One of my personal goals from Day 1 . is to bring more awareness to mixed-martial arts and being able to do that in Las Vegas.”
Jones will be tested at least twice leading up to his title bout.
The light heavyweight champion has been suspended twice for performance-enhancing drugs; the 15-month ban in California, and a yearlong ban in 2016 for testing positive for two anti-estrogen agents.
Jones said he’s excited to get back in the Octagon and fight in front of the Las Vegas crowd.
“I’m super grateful to be back fighting in Nevada,” Jones said. “I’m excited for March 2. It’s going to be a magnificent event.”