What the hell was that? In the world of MMA we have come to expect the unexpected, which can be exhilarating and depressing simultaneously. By now you’re probably familiar with the timeline of UFC 232, set to take place Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. If not, here is an uber-quick flashback.
The long awaited return of Jon Jones was announced in early October. Facing arguably his toughest test to date in the octagon, a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson for the Light Heavyweight championship. Six days before the fight was set to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the event was moved to Los Angeles due to a Jones’ drug testing abnormality stemming from earlier this month.
The test found a trace amount of turinabol, in the former champs system. This is the same substance he tested positive for in 2017 that led to the 15-month suspension he recently was cleared from in order to fight this week.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission did not have proper time to investigate the situation and could not clear Jones to compete, therefore the UFC decided to move the entire card. The California State Athletic Commission granted Jones a license based on its familiarity with his case. Everyone from the media, to fighters and fans found out about the news through social media. What a time to be alive!
So here we are, 48-hours before the final UFC card of 2018, now taking place in LA. The athletes traveled West by planes, trains, and automobiles and a press conference was held at the LAX Marriott featuring Jones, Gustafsson, Cris Cyborg, and Amanda Nunes.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 28, 2018
From the offset there were technical issues. The audio was piss-poor. Dana White couldn’t hear questions from the media. The microphones were barely turned on and fans packing the ballroom couldn’t hear any responses. Eventually the UFC crew fixed that shit.
Some key takeaways from a bizarre press conference:
-Jon Jones has upset a lot of people. He publically apologized to the fans and said he will make this right. How? No one knows. Just show up to fight Saturday and the masses will find a way to accept the GOAT back into their lives.
-Alexander Gustafsson straight up said he believes Jones is a steroid user. He doesn’t care at this point and wants vindication from their first fight. Depending on whom you ask, many believe the Swedish star out struck his opponent five years ago and was robbed of the win.
-Cris Cyborg has quietly become a fan favorite. The Featherweight champion and Huntington Beach native had the local crowd chanting her name jubilantly as she predicted her path to victory. She’s destroyed everyone in her path, from Gina Carano to Holly Holm, and the Brazilian is ready to solidify her place in MMA lore.
-Amanda Nunes seemed mighty confident going into her super fight this weekend. The Bantamweight titleholder is moving up a weight class, trying to be the first female to hold two titles consecutively. Ending the careers of former champions Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey respectively, she now has a chance to officially be the baddest woman on the planet.
-Jones was all over the place, trying to defend himself in the court of public opinion. Referring to the drug controversy, he called the trace substance a “pictogram.” When fans yelled ‘picogram,’ he responded with, “Exactly, as we speak I’m still learning what this stuff is.” He also suggested that people in the crowd had illegal substances in their bodies without knowing. Bones, stop it.
-Gustaffson was tired of hearing the same stuff over and over. “He’s not confident, this guy has to put shit into his body,” referring to Jones and his abnormal drug tests.
-Swedish female journalist, Izabelle Kostic, was treated poorly by Jones as she asked tough questions. Bones brushed her aside at first saying, “Next question please.” Followed by “Sit down, someone take the mic from her. Better questions, better journalism, you suck.”
-Dana White was contentious as usual. A question regarding California income taxes resulted in a Max Holloway trademark reply, “It is what it is.” When asked about USADA and the confidence that Jones is fighting clean, White said, “The experts, they’re the ones telling us, how would I know?” He continued with “Call Novitzky and set up an appointment to have an interview with him,” referring to Jeff Novitzky, UFC VP of Athlete Health and Performance. Everyone seemed confused and irritated at this point.
-Jones continued to stumble over his words, saying he passed a “polygram” test and later told fans to watch “UFC 242.” It wasn’t his best day on the mic by a long shot. The true highlight came from the former champion when explaining his anger with this whole saga. “I’m mad that this was even mentioned, you can’t take a picogram it’s that small, you can’t knowingly take it.” A fan exclaimed, “You snorted it” which Jones laughed and shrugged at, and Gustaffson couldn’t help but chuckle as well. Welcome to the fight game.
"Let's do this."
— UFC (@ufc) December 28, 2018
The main and co-main event competitors faced off as the crowd jeered. We’re only 24-hours away from this nightmare coming to an end. What could possibly go wrong?