What do you do when the sanctioning athletic commission tells you they won’t approve your main event star because of an abnormal drug test result?
If you’re the UFC, you move the whole shooting match from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. After all, the California State Athletic Commission allowed Tito Ortiz vs Chuck Liddell 3 to go ahead.
Sure enough, the CSAC happily threw their doors open for the UFC to move from their home state California, where the UFC 232 show will go on, but in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas.
The UFC’s (the CSAC’s) take is that Jones, whose drug test showed in his system a trace amount of the same substance that saw him banned for 15 months, did not have enough in his system for it to be a performance enhancer.
Their anti-doping administrators USADA, plus other independent testers, agreed that Jones had not taken anything since his last anti-doping suspension and therefore should be allowed to compete.
And with Nevada wanting to go through due process, rather than just let things sail through, the UFC has packed up its gear and headed to The Forum in Inglewood, which will host its second-ever UFC show.
Jones will understandably be delighted. The possibility of being removed from a fight card just after returning from a second anti-doping suspension would have been disastrous.
But for the rest of the card, it’s been a right royal pain in the rear end.
Fighters who should be getting ready for their final weight cut have now had to deal with relocating not just themselves from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, but their teammates, friends and family. On top of that, their pay packets are set to take a wallop from California’s state taxes – a big change from fighting in tax-free Nevada.
And it’s no better for the fans, either. The end-of-year jamboree in Vegas often attracts fans who watch the UFC show, then stick around for the New Year celebrations on the Strip.
Those fans whose flight or hotel reservations are unrefundable face the tricky situation of having to fork out extra for additional flights to LA, or miss out on attending the event altogether.
It’s all a complete mess, seemingly to accommodate one man – and a host of fighters are less than impressed…
— Alexander Gustafsson (@AlexTheMauler) December 24, 2018
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) December 24, 2018
— Corey Anderson UFC (@CoreyA_MMA) December 24, 2018
…and the posts above are just a small sample.
On the plus side, the event still goes ahead, and for those of us who will be watching from our sofas at silly o’clock in the morning, we still get to see a full fight card – and a pretty darned good one, at that.
But the fallout from this fight may go beyond a few miffed fighter tweets during fight week.
The UFC’s controversies have tended to blow over in the past. Will this one?