UFC 214 is right around the corner and it's not only a major card with three belts being contested, it marks the return of Jon Jones after years of controversy and suspensions. There was the hit and run following his original win over Daniel Cormier that made the UFC take away his light heavyweight title. And then there was the drug failure days before UFC 200 that resulted in his interim 205 pound belt being removed as well, making Jones the only champ in UFC history to be stripped twice.
Now Jones is back, and he feels like a win at UFC 214 on July 29th will finally erase all that bad news from the minds of fans.
"The last time something bad happened, something went majorly wrong, it was two years ago, and I think people fail to really realize that," Jones said on today's UFC 214 media call. "Over the last two years I feel like I've really done the right things to get my life back in order. I've paid for the things I've done wrong, I've faced the time for the things I've done wrong. And then I had this estrogen blocker situation happen, and I think it set me backwards, majorly backwards.
"And I've been really proud of myself for cleaning up my life, and the perception is that my life is still maybe a little out of control. But if you actually knew me, if you lived in Albuquerque and you saw my relationships with people and the community and the way things have turned around for me, you'd see things differently. This UFC 200 situation really, really set me backwards. I've forgiven myself for the things that happened, and I feel like I've done all the right things to get my life back together. And I feel like this win on Saturday, it's going to allow the fans to almost forgive and forget about that hit and run car accident and start to get excited about my future."
"I think getting this belt back is gonna set everything in the right direction to remember why I'm an exciting fighter. For people to remember why I'm one of the biggest pay per view draws in the sport. I think people have forgot about the things that made me special, and I'm excited to get this win so it will outweigh what happened two years ago and allow everyone else in the MMA community to start to move forward and heal from that the way me and my friends and my family and my teammates have moved forward from it already."
Jones also discussed recent accusations that his drug test failure prior to UFC 200 wasn't due to a tainted sexual performance pill, but rather evidence that he's been using performance enhancing drugs his entire career.
"To de-legitimize all that by trying to accuse me of being a steroid user is almost hysterical," he said. "But I'm so excited because on Saturday USADA is still fully intact, and I'm going to do exactly what I did last time ... but I feel like it's going to be in a better fashion. And there'll be no excuse - no excuse - for me winning but my hard work, my heart, my faith, and my belief.
“So I'm just excited to be in this position here. I get to put a lot of the critics to rest. 'Well, he did it again. Definitely wasn't steroids this time!' So I'm just interested to hear what people have to say after this Saturday."
Jones certainly feels like he's got a lot to prove. He'll need to be in the right mindset on Saturday in order to shake off any ring rust and defeat his nemesis Daniel Cormier.
UFC 214 goes down Saturday July 29th from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.