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Nevada State Athletic Commission re-licenses Jon Jones for UFC 235 following hearing

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The UFC light heavyweight champion went through an extensive NSAC hearing on January 29th, the result of which is that he’s set to fight in Las Vegas again in March.

Jon Jones can go back to fighting in Nevada. The NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) put the UFC champion through an extended hearing, including statements and questioning of multiple people involved in the drug testing process, and the result ended up in line with California’s decision making — when the state granted Jones a license to compete at UFC 232 back in December.

Jones had been set to face Alexander Gustafsson for the light heavyweight title in Las Vegas on December 29th, before concerns over Turinabol metabolites found in his out-of-competition drug testing cycle cause the NSAC to stop Jones from competing in the state. The bout was moved to Los Angeles, where Jones defeated Gustafsson via 3rd round TKO. Shortly afterward, the UFC booked Jones to take on top contender Anthony Smith, on March 2nd, back in Las Vegas.

At the January 29th hearing, commissioners questioned experts Dr. Daniel Eichner (Lab Director for WADA), Dr. Matt Fedoruk (Director of Science for USADA), and Jeff Cook (USADA’s Senior Director or Results Management & Investigations) about the lifetime of the ‘M3’ metabolite found in Jones’ samples over the last several months of USADA testing. They also questioned whether he may have re-ingested Turinabol during a lengthy 10-month period where he went untested during his initial suspension for the 2017 drug test failure. And about the discrepancy between the time when USADA initially found out about the metabolite in Jones’ sample and the point at which the NSAC and CSAC were notified.

The commission additionally stated that, by the letter of their regulations, Jones would likely be facing something like a lifetime ban from MMA. However, they felt that Jones’ case was unique, unlike any they’d ever seen, and that it required more careful treatment.

Jones reiterated that he never knowingly took oral Turinabol, and had no idea why the substances were in his body still. He also noted that he had reduced his supplement intake from fourteen different substances down to just four.

Eventually – and despite serious hesitations as to whether or not Jones may have re-administered Turinabol while under suspension, and questions as to why the NSAC wasn’t notified of Jones’ drug test results from August & September – the NSAC decided allow ‘Bones’ to fight in Nevada once again. He was granted a one-fight provisional license for UFC 235 on March 2nd, during the lead-up to which he will be drug-tested at least twice per-month by the NSAC — paid for by Jones.

“Mr. Jones, I appreciate you being here today, I appreciate you coming here to testify. Welcome back to the state of Nevada.” Chairman Anthony Marnell III said, upon granting Jones his license. “If you recall, a long time ago, you and I had a conversation in your locker room. When you came back to Nevada. I will reiterate what Commissioner Ault said: This is on you, it’s on your shoulders. I like what I hear, I like what I see, but the proof is in the pudding. So, I’m happy that you’re back here. You’ll always be treated with respect here. I wanted to make sure that you understood that today. Welcome back to Nevada, and do the right thing from this point going forward. As you know, we’re going to be visiting you frequently.”

The NSAC added that, if Jones does not undergo testing at least twice a month throughout 2019, and if those results are not consistently reported to the NSAC, the state would be unlikely to grant Jones a license in the future. The UFC champion is currently undergoing CSAC administered VADA testing, as well as USADA testing. Marnell handed USADA a stern warning over their lack of disclosure for Jones’ past tests, that the agency shouldn’t “test how broad they think my jurisdiction is,” when deciding whether or not to comply with the commission’s request for regular data on Jones.

Along with Jones’ case, the commission handed out several suspensions relating to the brawl between Team Nurmagomedov and Team McGregor during UFC 229 — where Nurmagomedov leapt the cage to attack Dillon Danis, as several of his cornermen brawled in the cage with McGregor’s team. Khabib ended up with the harshest punishment on the day, a $500,000 fine and a nine month suspension. While McGregor was hit with six-months and $50,000.

Not great news for the Dagestani champ, but it’s good news for the UFC, as it looks like they’ll be getting Jones, McGregor, and Nurmagomedov back in the cage in 2019.