Through the Eyes of a Fighter

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It is no secret that since the news of Jon Jones’ drug test failure for cocaine metabolites hit the press, the mixed martial arts icon has been on the chopping block with everyone from trainers and promoters to other fighters and fight fans.  A recurring objection I’ve heard from fight fans is that if the Dec. 4th NSAC drug test, administered to Jones was dirty.  drug-testThen, why was the competition allowed?  Dana White answered this simply by stating “So what happens, is they do these tests leading up to a fight — random drug tests. He tested positive,” White said. “No. 1 he was healthy, No. 2 the reason you would stop a fight and the hammer would drop on a guy is because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.”

In order for the UFC to have called off the fight, Jones would have to have tested positive for something on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s out-of-competition list of prohibited substances, such as performance enhancing drugs.  Whichever company administered the test goofed up. They tested him for street drugs which are not on the list of banned substances. But whatever the commission has, must be publicly accessible, so they released it.

UFC 182: Jones v CormierImmediately following the fight, Jones checked himself into a treatment facility for drug and alcohol abuse, and during an interview stated  “I want to apologize to my fiancé, my children, as well as my mother, father, and brothers for the mistake that I made. I also want to apologize to the UFC, my coaches, my sponsors and equally important to my fans. I am taking this treatment program very seriously. Therefore, at this time my family and I would appreciate privacy.”danawhite_13835095_2195503b

Dana White hopes the situation can be turned into a positive, and said “To sum it up, we are worried about Jon Jones the human being, the person, and we aren’t worried about the image of the sport or any of that right now. I applaud him and I support him.”

On the other end of the spectrum, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Randy Couture thinks this ordeal will taint Jones’ legacy, stating that “Cocaine is an illegal substance whether it’s performance enhancing or not.Randy_Couture So, it raises a whole bunch of other questions about Jon and obviously he’s volunteered to put himself into rehab, which is good for him. I hope that goes well. It’s a shame that the reputation and the ability that he brings to the cage is a little bit tarnished now because of this, but it is what it is. He’s the one who has to look himself in the mirror and deal with that. It will be interesting to see what his fight night drug test comes back and if it comes back clean. If it doesn’t come back clean, then obviously the commission will have no choice but to peruse sanctions against him. Will they go easy on him because he’s subjected himself to rehab? That’s a question we’ll see I guess when the results come back.”

The most recent update on the situation comes directly from Jones’ mother Camille, specifying that he left the treatment center after one night. “I’m glad that this happened to Jon, this stopped him in his tracks, this let him know that he may need to change some friends, you know, because everyone is not for you for the best,” Camille Jones told WBNG Action Sports. “So this is a good thing as far as our family is concerned, so we wasn’t upset. Me and my husband considered it a blessing from God that our child was able to be helped and know that he need to stop and know that he needed the assistance to stop before it came to something worse.”

Although being dispirited by the champ’s choice, his mother’s faith remains steadfast that the incident will not knock his future or his profession. “You know, it did not affect his game, it was not in his system during the fight, so he’s still a good athlete. So before something becomes serious of it, I was glad it was nipped in the bud.”

As someone who has very recently gone through substance abuse treatment, I can offer a bit of perspective for those who aren’t familiar.  The first 24 hours in a residential treatment center can be very different depending on what facility you’re inhabiting, although one thing is for sure, and that is the confusion and uncertainty of whether you think you need to be there.  You’re surrounded by medical/mental health professionals who are insistent that you are “powerless” over drugs and alcohol, and fellow patients may very well be powerless, but as a fighter(especially of Jones’ caliber) this is a mentality that you’re highly unlikely to accept and call your own.  Though it made some stages of treatment more difficult, I have not accepted this powerlessness, and fought tooth and nail for my belief that I am NOT powerless.

At this point I’m purely projecting my own experiences, but should Jones have had any sort of similar struggle to what I did in the first 24 hours of treatment, I can understand and empathize with the champ’s decision to depart.  Whether the whole thing was just a publicity stunt to get critics off his back is a topic in which I will remain neutral until more information is brought to light.

It seems that the Mixed Martial Arts community as a whole is in support of Jones’ recovery, should he follow through with the process. And through the eyes of a fighter, it may take him to a new level of “greatness.”  From one recovering addict to another, I bid Jones the best of luck with his recovery should he decide to continue.  This journey is one of epic self-discovery leading to an enlightening state of mental clarity; as Lao Tzu once said, “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”