Jon Jones will be returning to the Octagon sooner than anticipated.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Wednesday night that Jones’ suspension for a second failed drug test will be for 15 months, retroactive to July 28, 2017. Jones will be eligible to return Oct. 28, meaning he can fight at UFC 230 on Nov. 3 in his home state, New York. UFC 230 is without a main event at the moment.
Jones, 31, was facing a four-year ban when he tested positive in 2017 for the steroid Turinabol after regaining the light heavyweight title from current light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 214.
USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement provided to Sporting News that his association had decided to suspend Jones for 18 months “based on Jones’ delivery of substantial assistance.” Arbitrator Richard McLaren reduced the ban by three additional months after meeting Saturday with Jones, his legal team and USADA representatives. Jones said at the hearing that he didn’t knowingly take Turinabol. He also provided USADA with 12 different supplements, none of which were contaminated.
“The independent arbitrator found that Jon Jones was not intentionally cheating in this case, and while we thought 18 months was the appropriate sanction given the other circumstances of the case, we respect the arbitrator’s decision and believe that justice was served,” Tygart said in the statement.
As part of an agreement reached in the arbitration hearing, Jones agreed to enter a full-time rehabilitation center “to regain a level of health and independence even if it meant prolonging resolution of his second anti-doping rule violation.”
“Jon Jones has gone through a great deal of difficulties,” McLaren said in his summary. “He gave me the very distinct impression that he has learned a lot from the loss of the image of himself that he had as a champion MMA fighter. He has been humbled and humiliated by the experience but has learned from his misfortune. He needs the opportunity to regain his dignity and self-esteem.”
Jones had passed eight out-of-competition drug tests in 10 months leading up to UFC 214. He failed his post-event test.
His first failed test, for two anti-estrogen agents, occurred three days before his scheduled UFC 200 bout in July 2016 against Cormier. He was subsequently pulled from the contest.