As of Thursday, December 20th, the UFC, USADA, and the Nevada Commission (and likely Jon Jones) probably realized that trouble was brewing. That was the day that USADA reported the results of Jones’ December 9th drug test to the NSAC — one that once again came up positive for trace amounts of Turinabol.
Whether the commission knew right away, that they would be unwilling to license Jones to compete at UFC 232 on December 29th, or whether it took the full 3 days before the news went public on December 23rd for them to come to a decision, what’s followed has left a fans and fighters both scrambling to adjust in the wake of the news.
In response to the NSAC’s decision not to license Jones, the UFC upped sticks and decided to move their entire PPV event to the more obliging California Commission and the Forum in Inglewood. It just might have gone a little easier if they’d decided to tell the fighters competing on the card first.
That’s a point women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg pressed in her recent vlog series focused on the lead up to her co-main event bout against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“This is crazy,” Cyborg said of the secrecy ahead of the announcement. “They’re supposed to contact everybody. We’re partners. We’re partners. We can’t partner together … and they don’t contact you before. But I was in touch with my manager and he didn’t know, too. He was buying gifts for his family. Nobody knows. Just really don’t like. How can you call media and not call your fighters? For you to prepare yourself before and handle things before. How long do they know this?”
That last question is a fair one considering the general disbelief other fighters on the card expressed through social media. Just how long was the UFC working on making new arrangements before the news went public? Those athletes may not have ended up with any more say in the change, but every extra minute to prepare may have been key during fight week, and it may have slightly prevented the wide scale backlash to the news.
Cyborg also talked of hopes that the event moving closer to her adopted home out in Los Angeles would mean that more of her fans would be in attendance — even as others, who had made travel plans for Vegas well ahead of time will lose out. But, whatever ticket sales end up looking like for UFC 232 on the night, Cyborg sounds certain she’ll be ready.
“I trained for this fight nine months,” Cyborg said. “I want to fight. I just feel upset about my fans, the people who bought a ticket. And about family that’s gonna come. But my thoughts continue, I’m gonna fight Amanda. It doesn’t matter where, if you move the city. It’s just, this is really crazy because people bought a ticket, made plans for family in Las Vegas. But in my mind, I’m training, I’m ready, I was ready a long time ago for this fight. I really don’t want to change the date. But I’m sad about the people who cannot come and make it [to] LA.”
Despite all the last minute adjustments, no fights have been pulled from the card as a result of the change of venue. UFC 232 is currently scheduled for thirteen bouts, headlined by the vacant title fight between returning former champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson and the featherweight ‘superfight’ between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news, notes, and other possible catastrophic MMA announcements.