Has Jon Jones' legacy been tarnished since his failed USADA drug test? In Alexander Gustafsson's eyes, absolutely.
'Bones', who was removed from his light heavyweight title unification bout with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200, tested positive for Hydroxy-clomiphene, an anti-estrogen agent, stemming from an out-of-competition test conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency on June 16. For more on why fighters would want to take estrogen blockers, check out Iain Kidd's recent piece here.
Gustafsson, who fought Jones in a pulsating championship clash at UFC 165, still has high praise for Jones but no longer considers him the 'greatest of all time'.
"I think he is one of the best fighters in the world, but 'Greatest Of All Time?', no not for me," Gustafsson told Jim Edwards of Flo Combat. "There have been, and still are, so many good fighters and I think Jones still has more to prove, especially now after what has happened."
Since the controversy, Jones has pleaded his innocence and denies knowingly taking any performance-enhancing drugs. Tim Means and Yoel Romero, who also recently tested positive for PEDs, argued for tainted supplement usage and received reduced suspensions. It's possible that Jones will use a similar argument to negotiate the terms of his suspension.
Gustafsson says that if Jones is proven to have knowingly cheated, the 29-year-old should receive a stern punishment. Given the weight of Jones' recent troubles, however, Gustafsson isn't sure the New Yorker will ever fully recover.
"Obviously, I think that if it's proven that he has been cheating, he should definitely be suspended. The sad thing for me is that if he does have to sit out two years, then I'm not sure if he will ever be able to come back?
"Even if he does come back, he will never be able to erase the 'cheater stamp'. Once you are caught, you can never wash that away."
Gustafsson, who lost in his second light heavyweight championship fight to Daniel Cormier last year, will look to spring back into the winners column against Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night 93 on September 3 in Hamburg, Germany.
Jones is currently under suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission and is likely to receive a hearing in September or October.