Drug Hangover: UFC Reveals New Welterweight Title Fight, Jon Jones and Anderson Silva’s Future

Jon Jones Photo by Jack Dempsey Associated Press
Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

Wednesday’s UFC press conference dropped a bombshell on the mixed-martial-arts world by revealing a new regimen of random, out-of-competition testing, comprehensive in-fight testing, and a push for “career ending” penalties. But the promotion dropped other bombshells unheard over the big one.

On Anderson Silva…
“That shocked the entire MMA community and sports world,” Dana White said of one of cage fighting’s historical greats testing positive for steroids. “It shocked me. We were pretty blown away by it.” When a Brazilian reporter asked about the fights remaining on the former middleweight champion’s contract, White responded: “There’s a long road to go before we start thinking about Anderson’s next fight.”

On Jon Jones…
“Jon Jones was tested out of competition on December 4,” Dana White explained. “When he was tested, he tested positive for cocaine.” But, as White points out, “You do not test for recreational drugs out of competition.” So, because Jones “tested negative for everything” during the in-fight testing, his punishments don’t amount to what they would have had he tested positive during an in-competition test. White explained, “Had Jon Jones tested positive for a recreational drug after the fight he would be in even more trouble.” As it stands, the light-heavyweight champion faces top contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 187 on May 23 in what may represent a cleaning out of the division for Jones. The UFC also announced the addition of the Chris Weidman-Vitor Belfort middleweight title fight to that card.

On the new welterweight championship fight…
Perhaps the biggest news aside from the new testing regimen concerned the new matchup for welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. Instead of facing Cuban Judoka Hector Lombard, whose test came back dirty after his victory over veteran Josh Burkman, Lawler now faces Canadian Rory MacDonald, a fighter he decisioned in 2013. The 18-2 Canadian takes on the heavy-handed champion on the promotion’s annual summer mega-card in Las Vegas. The Lawler-MacDonald tilt likely plays second fiddle at UFC 189 to the featherweight fight between champion Jose Aldo and big-mouthed, big-fisted Conor McGregor.

UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta confronted the possibility that the new policy may result in more last-minute, crippling cancellations of main-event bouts. “So be it,” Fertitta resolved. “If we lose main events, we lose main events.”

And in losing the Lombard-Lawler scrap because of a likely steroid suspension, the UFC gains one equally demanded by the fans in MacDonald-Lawler. Fertitta concludes, “It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.”