Jon Jones knows he’s made a ton of mistakes throughout his career in the UFC.
The turning point for him came in 2015 when Jones slammed into two other drivers and fled the scene in a hit-and-run accident that could have ended with him in jail, but ultimately cost him his light heavyweight title as well as 18-months on probation for the altercation.
It was that moment when Jones really began to make serious changes in his life, which resulted in the former champion getting clean and sober while dedicating himself to living up to the moniker of being the most talented fighter who has ever competed inside the UFC Octagon.
His crowning achievement in the ultimate comeback story was supposed to be at UFC 200 last July when Jones was set to face Daniel Cormier with a chance to reclaim the title he never actually lost in competition.
Then the bottom fell out for Jones.
It was revealed just days before the event that Jones had tested positive for a banned substance and he was being pulled from the fight with Cormier. A tearful Jones answered questions later that same day while he continued to scratch his head about what could have caused this positive drug test.
Eventually, Jones was suspended for a year by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) after it was discovered that an off-brand erectile dysfunction drug he had taken was tainted with the anti-estrogen substances that resulted in the positive drug test.
As damaging as it was for Jones to deal with the allegations that he was a cheater, it was perhaps even tougher for him to face a disbelieving public, who felt like this was just one more instance where he was throwing his career away.
“I did a lot of work to get back to UFC 200. A lot of cleaning up my life and my circle and just a lot of work. To fall back so far because a damn sex pill and to have people kind of assume that your life isn’t together, it was very hurtful,” Jones said recently. “It was very hurtful that people saw me as this guy who was just [expletive] up.”
Jones says he really changed his life after that fateful early morning accident in 2015 that ended with him surrendering to police after a warrant for his arrest was issued.
As much as Jones wanted to prove he had cleaned up by stomping Cormier and taking back his belt at UFC 200, his decision to use an off-market erectile dysfunction medication suddenly took all that away.
“The truth of the matter is I’ve had my life pretty together for about the last two years. Ever since that hit-and-run, a lot has changed in my life,” Jones explained. “If I hadn’t have taken that sex pill, I would be looked at as I would be the champion again currently. The belt would be right here. I would have won at UFC 200 and people would have already been saying ‘wow, it’s so great to see the way Jon has turned his life around and he’s doing the right things and he’s becoming a man in front of our eyes’.”
“But instead that one damn pill it makes people think I still don’t have the belt right now, I’ve fought once in two years and the consensus is that I’m this guy who can’t get his [expletive] together. I feel like my [expletive] been together for quite a long time and I’m just excited to let the belt be a reflection of how I’ve got my life back together.”
When the positive drug test was revealed, Jones says he had no idea that it had anything to do with the erectile dysfunction medication that he had taken because that’s been a regular practice for him throughout his UFC career.
“I have been in the UFC for many, many years and I’ve taken sex pills several times throughout my adult life. Highly recommend it guys. [Expletive] great. I never failed a drug test. Never once failed a drug test,” Jones said. “I just knew it couldn’t have been that. I really didn’t understand what it was.
“All my supplements have been the same throughout my entire career. I’ve been getting my supplements from the same company my whole career. Then I stated working with GAT and the main thing I was using with GAT was their protein powders and amino acids and stuff. Had no clue that’s what it was but that’s what it was.”
When it was finally revealed that the erectile dysfunction medication was responsible for the positive drug test, which then resulted in Jones missing out on UFC 200 and facing a one-year suspension, he was stunned.
As devastating as that moment was for Jones, he says it ultimately served as one more gigantic wake up call for him and his career.
“Bad luck for sure. That sex pill was intended for one act. So it was just like how in the hell does this happen? Definitely bad luck,” Jones said. “Dumb on my part because I probably should have taken the rules a lot more serious and literally had everything tested. I just figured this was safe because it had nothing to do with sports performance, it’s sexual performance.
“Just dumb on my part for not taking the rules as serious as I should have. Now I literally, I take USADA very seriously, I report everything I’m taking, I let them know everywhere I’m going to be.”
As much as Jones wanted to beat Cormier last July and re-establish himself as the best light heavyweight fighter in the world not to mention the most dominant pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, he also knows that this time off has just given him another chance to reflect on what he had and how much he missed it once it was gone.
Now Jones is more determined than ever before to reclaim his throne as the best in the world and this last year off has just been another lesson learned.
“I’m a very optimistic person,” Jones explained. “I’m the type of guy that knows that I can fight through any situation, very hard to be broken and defeated and I know with time and a certain amount of energy, you can get past any obstacle so I just tried to look at the whole situation as it was meant to be.
“That’s the way that I honestly feel right now.”