Note: My opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bloody Elbow staff or SB Nation.
There are a hundred and one things that don't make sense with this whole Jon Jones cocaine debacle.
There's the weird timing of the announcement, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission keeping quiet despite having the test results weeks prior; There's the whole 'out of competition' standard and why that doesn't include training camp, or why they even test for cocaine if it isn't banned in the first place; There's also the question on whether or not the UFC knew of the result and still allowed the bout to continue.
That's a laundry list of issues and questions that still need to be addressed, but for now, I want to discuss what happens to Jon Jones.
Apparently, while the athletic commission did not have power to cancel the bout after the failed test, they will look to "address this anomaly" and that disciplinary action is still an option for them. It may be highly unlikely that they can or will do anything to punish Jones having the 'out-of-competition' technicality, but it doesn't mean Dana White and the crew also have their hands tied on the matter.
But why does it sound like the UFC doesn't care enough about all this? Drugs of abuse and illegal activities are part of their code of conduct, and yet there's zero talk about any punishments or repercussions. Instead, they're simply applauding Jones and saying how 'proud' they are that he entered rehab.
Regardless if the NAC manages to impose a penalty, the UFC should move ahead and punish Jones for his actions. After all, and they have fined, suspended, and fired several people for much less.
Being inconsistent and not doing anything when their cash cow is involved could be more damaging to their reputation than the actual drug scandal itself. Instead of showing a clear picture that they only bring up that vaunted 'code of conduct' when it suits their financial interests, they should be sending a message that these kinds of actions will not fly within the organization.
At the very least, the UFC should hand him one of their standard 6-9 month suspensions and fines, and they should also strip him of his title.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, why would the UFC want to lose money by giving a 'harsh' punishment to one of their top draws? Well, for one thing, it could be more damaging to them if their credibility takes a hit with the general public. Secondly, if you really think about it, this is basically a slap on the wrist and they can still turn this situation around to their favor.
The UFC can crown a new champion by making Gustafsson vs. Johnson a title fight or by having the winner face Cormier for the belt. As for Jones, simply slate him into an immediate title fight once he finishes his rehab and suspension. They still get the bout they've been planning, and they can even market an intriguing champion vs. champion match up with a redemption story line.
Apart from earning from that big money fight, more importantly, the UFC will get to do all this without blatantly risking their reputation and sacrificing their integrity as a promotion.
Don't risk your credibility by doing nothing or depending on any 'punishment' from the commissions. Go above and beyond by stripping Jones of his title. Take that much needed stand, and I'm sure you'll still find it easy to turn these lemons to lemonade.
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