Saturday’s upcoming UFC 200 card has taken a big hit, as the headlining light heavyweight championship unification rematch between Jon “Bones” Jones and Daniel Cormier was officially canceled Wednesday night thanks to a potential doping violation from Jones:
USADA has informed Jon Jones of a potential doping violation. He is off UFC 200.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 7, 2016
This led to a press conference carried live on ESPN with Jeff Nowitzky (remember him?! He’s a former IRS and FDA agent who was a big part of investigations into the BALCO scandal and Lance Armstrong’s doping, and has been the UFC’s vice-president of athlete health and safety (and in charge of their anti-doping program) since April 2015) speaking about how the timeframe here required Jones to be pulled from the event even though a violation hasn’t firmly been established yet, plus UFC president Dana White looking very, very unhappy:
There’s obviously going to be plenty of fallout from this, as the Jones-Cormier match was so highly hyped that it even dwarfed Brock Lesnar’s return to the octagon. With Jones-Cormier off, Lesnar’s match against Mark Hunt has been moved up to the main event:
The main event for UFC 200 is Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt. pic.twitter.com/RQU5ZcBRl9
— #UFCHouston (@ufc) July 7, 2016
This is the second big change for UFC 200, which initially was supposed to feature a Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch until McGregor’s sudden “retirement” in April in a dispute over required promotional appearances. That dispute between McGregor and White has since been (at least somewhat) resolved, with a McGregor-Diaz fight now set for UFC 202, but it forced the UFC to come up with another major fight for the big second century event. The Jones – Cormier rematch was supposed to be that, with Lesnar and Hunt in a supporting role. Many fans haven’t reacted well to the change:
— Enrique Mercado Jr. (@E_msosk) July 7, 2016
So pissed about the Jones v. DC fight being dropped… #UFC200
— Benjamin Schmit (@InSchmitDeep) July 7, 2016
Stunned by the Jon Jones news. Disappointed is an understatement. Just took the air outta what would've been an exciting weekend. #UFC200
— Doric Sam (@doricsam83) July 7, 2016
I honestly can't even process what's happening right now. Never been so let down by a fighter as a fan #UFC200
— Kevin Targaryen (@PgonBrwnRangr) July 7, 2016
But hey, at least the UFC was still able to promote the old card during the presser announcing it was toast!
DTV feed of ESPN last 10- 5 minutes of Jon Jones suspension, commercial featuring promo for Jones fight, straight into more Jones coverage
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) July 7, 2016
This probably is not so good for Fox Sports Live’s presumably-pretaped segment with Jones and Cormier, though. Although it might be fun to watch in retrospect now!
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 7, 2016