When he was 23, former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones became the youngest person to win a UFC title. He held the 205-pound belt from 2011 until 2015, defending it a record eight times.
He was set to defend his title against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187, but Jones’ life spiraled out of control. Weeks before the scheduled event, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run incident and stripped of the belt.
Jones returned at UFC 197 in April 2016 and defeated Ovince Saint Preux to capture the interim light heavyweight title, setting up a rematch with Daniel Cormier, who won the 205-pound championship in Jones’ absence. The fight was set to headline UFC 200. Three days before the event, Jones was pulled from the fight card after being flagged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for an out-of-competition drug test. He received a one-year suspension.
Jones returned at UFC 214 in July and recaptured the light heavyweight crown by defeating Cormier by knockout. The result was later overturned and he was stripped of the title a third time after testing positive to the banned substance Turinabol, an anabolic steroid. Jones’ fall from grace is one of the biggest wastes of talent in sports history.
UFC president Dana White and Jones have had a rocky history. White once said that Jones would never headline another UFC event. Looking back on Jones’ career, White is disappointed by what could have been.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m mad at Jon Jones. We haven’t talked at all. (I’m) very (disappointed in him),” said White during an appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast. “I think he is the greatest of all time. If he had done everything the way he should have, he’d be a huge superstar. He might even be the heavyweight champion of the world.”
Jones faces a lengthy suspension for his most recent anti-doping violation and White was uncertain about Jones’ fighting future. When asked if he felt Jones would ever fight again, White was non-committal, but sounded dour.
“I think that he’s got to go through USADA and the California State Athletic Commission, but I think he’s gonna be in big trouble.”