Over the past week, several mixed martial arts media members have expressed concern about Bellator’s decision to book Mirko Cro Cop for their 200th event. This is because Cro Cop has yet to begin serving a two-year USADA suspension for having human growth hormone in his system before UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Masvidal. Bellator’s decision to book Mirko Cro Cop despite his USADA suspension puts at risk a well known unwritten rule among most MMA promotions and commissions. The unwritten rule states that no fighter should be given a commission license or be booked by a company until he/she has completed the suspension. This rule was meant to show competitors that if they got caught cheating, the ability to earn money would be stripped away. As a result of this, media members like Ryan Harkness of MMA Mania are asking the question does Bellator want to be known as the promotion that regularly breaks the unwritten rule. For instance, he stated in a recent article on this topic that “Bellator wants to use every single star they can get their hands on. But at the same time, do they want to be known as a promotion that ignores USADA suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs?”.
However, one can argue that Bellator broke the unwritten rule because they see a small window of opportunity to potentially sign Jon Jones in the near future. Jon Jones is currently facing a two to four-year suspension for his second violation under the USADA. The USADA violations are related to Jones ingesting substances that were banned by the agency. For example, according to ESPN, Jones was suspended for a year by USADA on November 7th of 2016 (“retroactive to July 6, the date Jones was pulled from a UFC 200 pay-per-view title fight”). This is because Jones tested positive for “the banned substances clomiphene and letrozole” which can be found in male enchantment drugs. A year later, Jon Jones committed another violation after he tested positive for turinabol in a drug test leading up to UFC 214. Due to this, if USADA decides to suspend him for four years retroactive to July 29th there is a possibility that he requests his release; to continue fighting elsewhere until the suspension is complete. If the UFC grants his freedom, Bellator would have real interest in signing Jon Jones because they have already established that entertainment is more important than the health of the sport.
As a result, if Bellator and Jon Jones agreed to a contract, he would instantly become the company’s biggest television and pay per view star. According to mmapayout.com, the worst pay per view headlined by Jones had over three hundred thousand buys which is more than both Bellator pay per views. Furthermore, Jon is still considered one of the greatest of all time thus his potential presence in the company could entice free agents to jump ship. This is because these free agents would have the opportunity to be recognized as the first fighter to beat Jon Jones.