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Jon Jones as confident as ever while serving latest UFC ban

In this July 7, 2016, file photo, mixed martial arts fighter Jon Jones cries as he speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones broke his nine-month silence on Friday, April 7, 2017. On the eve of UFC 210, Jones addressed the media for the first time since July, when he was issued a one-year suspension following a positive drug test. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

Published: April 17, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jon Jones vows he's done with the drama — both legal and drug-related — that has sidetracked the last three years of his UFC career.

Three months from completing a yearlong doping ban, Jones said Friday, April 7, he is focusing solely on reclaiming the light heavyweight title he's lost twice due to suspensions.

"I used to do a lot of dumb (stuff). A lot. I just took so much for granted," Jones said peppering his comments with profanities during a news conference. "I can't afford to do (stuff). You know, people love to hear some Jon Jones drama. And I'm just done giving it to people."

Jones was at times reflective during a 25-minute news conference held a day before UFC 210 is held in Buffalo. And yet there were also times Jones revealed he hasn't lost much of the familiar trash-talking bluster he previously expressed when he was considered one of the sports' best pound-for-pound fighters.

He referred to himself as "the greatest mixed martial artist who's ever walked this planet" in speaking to the media for the first time since being suspended in July. And he's itching for the opportunity to return to the cage.

One reason Jones was in the audience on Saturday, April 8, was to scout the light heavyweight title bout between defending champion Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson.

"I'm majorly motivated and inspired to get back in the gym to get back what's mine," Jones said.

The only questions are when Jones' first fight will take place and who'll he'll face.

Jones wouldn't say whether he'll immediately return for UFC 213, which is scheduled a week after his suspension is lifted.

One thing is certain. Jones wasn't afraid to provide a return volley in a war of words that escalated between him and Cormier last week.

Cormier accused Jones of grand-standing by showing up to Buffalo when he's not fighting. And he warned Jones to stay away from the cage or "something bad might happen."

Jones laughed it off.

Jones and Cormier, of course, have a history. The only blemish on Cormier's 18-1 record is a loss to Jones.

The two have twice scheduled rematches only to have both canceled due to Jones' troubles. That included the most recent bout in UFC 200 last July.

And Cormier was awarded the light heavyweight belt only after Jones was stripped of it in early 2015, when he was suspended by the UFC following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jones had successfully defended his title eight times through 2013. But he's fought just three times over the past four years.

The latest absence has provided Jones pause.

"I'm more grateful now for the things I've been able to accomplish than I was back when I was accomplishing them," he said. "I realize I had a lot and it hurts not to have it. And I know how much work it's going to take to get it back."

What's most frustrating, Jones was already in the process of turning around his life before his latest suspension, which he blames on an estrogen blocker used in a sexual enhancement pill.

"To fall back so far because of a damn sex pill, and to have people kind of assume your life isn't together," Jones said. "If I hadn't taken the sex pill, right now I'd be looked at as the person who would be the champion again. Currently."

He acknowledged it's on him to win back fans' trust.

"I feel if people don't want to believe that I've matured a lot, then they don't have to, and it's up to me to earn that trust," Jones said. "And through my actions, I think time will be the judge."


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