A story about former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones hiding under the cage at his gym years ago to avoid taking a drug test has been part of MMA lore for years. But it had never been verified, often chalked up to trash talk from an opponent, a tall tale that bloomed from Jones’ two past positive drug tests.
On Thursday, though, Jones confirmed on Twitter that the story is true, that he did indeed hide from a sample collector who came to his JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to administer a drug test for the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). This was apparently before the UFC’s partnering with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2015.
Jones, the former longtime UFC light heavyweight champion and one of the best MMA fighters of all time, wrote that he had “just smoked a blunt” and was afraid he’d fail the drug test for marijuana. However, cannabis is actually not prohibited in out-of-competition drug testing; it is banned in in-competition drug testing that is done in the immediate hours before and after fight night.
The admission came during a long back-and-forth Twitter exchange with UFC middleweight Israel Adesanya, with whom Jones has been trash-talking on social media for more than a week with a possible bout between the two being targeted for 2021. Adesanya tweeted that Jones “stayed under the cage to hide from USADA during a random drug test.”
Jones responded, “I was hiding from Nevada State Athletic Commission, not USADA and that was years ago. I had just smoked a blunt and was afraid I would fail my test for weed. … That’s the actual truth.”
A request for comment from NSAC executive director Bob Bennett was not immediately returned Friday. The commission has taken umbrage with fighters avoiding drug tests in the past. In 2016, the NSAC suspended MMA legend Wanderlei Silva three years for refusing a 2014 drug test.
The story about Jones hiding under the cage was first told by former Jones rival Chael Sonnen on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2016. Jones had never commented on it directly until his tweet Thursday.
Jones, 33, has been suspended twice by USADA in the past four years for positive drug tests for performance-enhancing drugs. However, the agency found upon investigation that there was no evidence Jones intentionally took the substances in either case.