Jon Jones made a successful return to the Octagon by defeating rival Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of December 29’s UFC 232 from Inglewood, California.
The dominant third-round TKO seemed to end the rivalry between ‘Bones’ and ‘The Mauler’ that persisted dating back to their classic first match-up in 2013. Gustafsson even offered his praise for Jones by calling him the best in the world right after the bout. However, his management is singing a completely different tune two weeks after UFC 232.
Of course, Jones was met with some controversy when he was found to have tested positive for trace amounts of anabolic steroid Turinabol in the months leading up to his return. They weren’t enough for USADA to suspend Jones again, but the NSAC wouldn’t license him. UFC 232 was moved to Los Angeles as a result, and Gustafsson declared he believed Jones was indeed a doper.
In a written statement to MMAjunkie, Gustafsson’s manager Nima Safapour revealed they weren’t backing down on that stance:
“We hold the same position about Jones as it relates to the doping controversy. Whatever he is doing, it smells terrible.”
Whatever they think Jones is doing, however, he hasn’t been caught for. ‘Bones’ passed both USADA and CSAC-issued drug tests after UFC 232. He’s certainly not out of the woods in terms of performance-enhancing drug issues, and perhaps he never will be. Safapour pointed out to the inconsistencies in Jones’ testing, where he tested positive but the results weren’t given to the CSAC for his re-licensing hearing:
“His results were, ‘pulsing,’ in August and September, which means he did not test negative,” Safapour wrote. “Does that mean he tested positive on those occasions? Those same tests results were not given to the California commission at Jon’s last hearing, nor was it given to California when he failed his test from December.”
In his mind, something is amiss with Jones and PEDs. He pointed out the fact that Jones and his team just want everyone to believe he has been an unlucky victim of the testing system. To him, no other fighters have the issues he has:
“Why are other fighters not having these problems? We are just supposed to believe that Jon is an innocent victim that has the worst luck in MMA history.”
Plan To Bounce Back
Regardless of the PED-related controversy, Jones is officially back and clean, at least as of now. He’s passed his rivalry with Gustafsson by destroying ‘The Mauler’ in a fight that wasn’t close. It’s hard for Gus’ camp to make excuses for that. Safapour said it simply wasn’t Gustafsson’s day that day. He can definitely beat Jones on the right day in his opinion.
With that said, Gustafsson will be back crawling towards a title shot soon:
“The plan is to come back stronger than ever. The fight was the fight. We still believe 100 percent that Alex can beat Jones. Just depends on the day. Anyone can win depending on the circumstances of the fight. It was not our day, but we will come back and get the title in due time either from Jon or whoever else is holding the title at that time. Expect to see ‘The Mauler’ back in action soon.”
Gustafsson has been incredibly inactive in the last two years, with only one fight since May 2017. Now that he has work to do, he may be forced to fight more in an effort to claw his way back to an
‘The Mauler’ called out for a bout with rising contender Corey Anderson at March 16’s UFC London, a fight that would help him bounce back somewhat. But in terms of Jones, achieving a rematch is going to be tough sledding.
Will the towering Swede ever be able to break ‘Bones?’