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John Locher/Associated Press

If the recent flap over Jon Jones' positive drug test has taught us anything at all, it's that the system is only as good as the people running it.

And right now, those people aren't doing much to inspire confidence.

From the Nevada State Athletic Commission's admission that it shouldn't even have tested Jones for cocaine on Dec. 4, to the curious idea that nobody told him he'd failed until after he fought at UFC 182, to initial uncertainty over whether Carbon Isotope Ratio tests were conducted to try to determine if Jones had also been using performance-enhancing drugs, the whole thing has been a comedy of errors—with MMA fans cast as the butt of the joke.

After a public meeting on Monday where the NSAC delighted in talk but ultimately declined to act, it's clear state regulators just aren't up to this challenge.

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Steve Marcus/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — In the end, the Nevada State Athletic Commission's much-anticipated session on its out-of-competition drug-testing program ended up being much ado about nothing.

The program came under fire when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites prior to his UFC 182 title defense against Daniel Cormier. Because Jones tested positive early in December rather than close to the actual fight, the test result was considered "out of competition" rather than "in competition," and punishment could not be doled out to Jones by the commission.

In 2007, the NSAC voted to adopt the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances, effectively picking and choosing portions of the WADA code to follow. The WADA code defines "in competition" as the 12 hours before and immediately following a fight. Any other time is considered out of competition, and cocaine is only banned in competition.

During a Monday meeting attended by Bleacher Report, the Nevada commission—spurred by chairman Francisco Aguilar—opened discussions regarding its program. But no decisions were made, with the commission instead opting to focus its efforts on researching possible changes to Nevada code.

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John Locher/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — In the wake of Jon Jones' failed test for cocaine metabolites, social media lit up with discussion over Jones' curious testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratios.

Victor Conte, the man who was famously involved with the BALCO doping scandal, took to social media to note that Jones' T/E ratio was out of line with the norm.

Mixed martial arts journalists like Bloody Elbow's Brent Brookhouse began pushing for the Nevada commission to perform Carbon Isotope Ratio testing on Jones' samples from the December 4 and December 18 drug tests:

But during a Thursday interview with Bleacher Report, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett said that carbon isotope testing was indeed done on Jones' pre-fight drug tests, and that the results came back clean. 

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USA Today

In a rare show of solidarity, the MMA community nearly unilaterally told 2014 not to let the door bump its behind on the way out. It had not been a good dozen months for the sport, and we were eager for change.

We'd hoped for better things from the new year, but so far it seems 2015 has displayed the same sickly pallor and funky odor of its predecessor. Already we've lost some high-profile fights to injury, and the one epic barnburner we did get was immediately overshadowed by a failed drug test.

So, it could be that this whole "new year" thing was just a trick with numbers. That bad news isn't just going to stop happening because we arbitrarily declare it a season of invigoration and renewal. Go figure.

In any case, we're still gonna make predictions. Bold ones. Here, Bleacher Report lead writers Chad Dundas (that's me) and Jonathan Snowden get together to give 2015 its horoscope a little bit early.

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Getty Images

On Tuesday, just days removed from his dominant title defense against former Olympian Daniel Cormier, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones surprised many in the MMA community by checking himself into a drug rehabilitation clinic. The move came after a December 4, 2014 drug screening by the Nevada State Athletic Commission revealed benzoylecgonine, the primary metabolite of cocaine.

While the UFC issued a short statement, little is known about how the promotion intends to proceed or what will happen to Jones in the aftermath. While jokes have flowed freely through social media, solid information has not. What follows are some of the facts and information about UFC's code of conduct and Nevada's drug testing policies and procedures.

 

Why Wasn't Jones Punished and the Fight Stopped?

Nevada, following the guidance of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) makes a distinction between in-competition and out-of-competition use.

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Getty Images

We’ve all spent considerable time during Jon Jones’ six-and-a-half year run in the UFC trying to figure out if he is a good man or a bad man.

In the wake of news this week, via Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie.com, that the fight company's brilliant but often perplexing light heavyweight champion checked into a drug rehabilitation clinic after failing a Nevada Athletic Commission test for the primary metabolite for cocaine, perhaps we can finally agree to meet in the middle.

Jones, it seems, is just a man with as much capacity for weakness as greatness.

As the announcement floated across our social media timelines on Tuesday afternoon, it was met with equal parts surprise and studied indifference. As all things involving Jones, there were a lot of bad jokes to be cracked.

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Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

MMA Kingpin is a funny responsibility. It's an entirely fictional position, sure. But it's one with no small level of import. Filled by a single fighter at a time, it's the man with the combination of accomplishment, skill and pure swagger that makes him, unmistakably, the sport's top dog.

For most established sports that's not a big deal—baseball is still baseball, no matter how classy Derek Jeter is or whether Yasiel Puig is hustling enough on the way to first base.

But for MMA, a sport still being introduced worldwide, the man on the throne makes a big difference. It means, like it or not, the Kingpin sets the tone for what mixed martial arts is and what it might be. He represents all of us and our sport. 

After Saturday night's humbling of Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, Jon Jones sits alone at the pinnacle—but it's a seat still warm from the seven years Anderson Silva reigned with such grace and impish vitality, a strange combination, but one he pulled off with style. 

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For the last six months, they were the best of enemies, and on Saturday at UFC 182, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier pretty much proved to be perfect dance partners, too.

Jones got the last laugh—retaining his title and sending the 35-year-old Cormier spinning into uncertainty with a unanimous-decision win—but not before the challenger brought out the best (and worst) in the polarizing light heavyweight champion.

It was fitting that their intense personal feud ended with a fight as emotionally charged and layered as the bad blood itself. Also, that the two did not immediately kiss and make up afterward.

"The respect just wasn't there,” Jones told Fox Sports 1's Brian Stann after the judges awarded him victory (49-46 x 3). “I don't like Daniel Cormier. I don't respect Daniel Cormier. I hope he's somewhere crying right now."

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USA Today

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (21-1) is the best fighter in the world. If that was a controversial statement before he dispatched undefeated Olympian Daniel Cormier (15-1) by unanimous decision at UFC 182 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, it's surely a given afterward.

It wasn't just that Jones, 27, beat Cormier, 35, a top heavyweight who dropped down a weight class to avoid a collision with his teammate Cain Velasquez, the heavyweight kingpin. It was the way he beat Cormier, half athletic god and half message-board troll, his two sides working together to create a truly memorable night.

"I don't like Daniel Cormier," Jones, who won 49-46, 49-46, 49-46, said after the fight on Fox Sports 1. "I don't respect Daniel Cormier. I hope he's somewhere crying right now. I'm sure he is."

To understand the level of animus in UFC 182's main event, you have to understand how the two men ended up in the cage in the first place. It's the story of giant egos, wounded pride and transcendent talents.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS—In pre-fight interviews leading up to UFC 182, Daniel Cormier told Jon Jones that he hoped Jones would finally be the man who could be his equal.

He got what he wanted, and then some.

Through five mostly-thrilling round atop an otherwise lackluster UFC 182 card, Jones cemented himself as the best pound for pound fighter in the history of mixed martial arts by doing, once again, what he likes to do best: fight his opponents in their strongest area. On this night, that meant Jones became the first man to take Cormier to the canvas. And then he did it again. And again. And again.

Cormier was game. This loss wasn't a reflection of his own status as a mixed martial artist. He is clearly close to the top of the light heavyweight division. The problem is that Jones isn't even on top of the heap any more. He's in the stratosphere, looking down on a pile of ruined bodies.