Signs bearing his likeness were being removed from the rafters at MGM Grand and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as Jon Jones, scratched from the main event at Saturday's landmark UFC 200 event, apologized to his fans and boss on Thursday.
In a brief and low-key media session, Jones became emotional and left the press conference after only five minutes. When he returned to field additional questions, Jones' face was saturated with tears that fell to soak his white collared shirt, and answers didn't come easily.
"Being labeled as someone who would cheat hurts me more than anything else I've ever been through in my career," Jones said Thursday.
UFC president Dana White removed Jones from the event because of a positive drug test from a sample taken June 16. Jones provided records showing five previous samples were clean. His "B" sample of the June 16 test will be analyzed and could clear Jones. If not, he's facing a ban of up to two years.
Without Jones, who was scheduled to fight Daniel Cormier, the UFC card is lacking three of its biggest names - Jones, Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
Jones described himself as devastated when he was informed of the failed test via phone call while on the way to a workout.
"I want to apologize to Daniel Cormier. I know this fight means a lot to him," Jones said.
White, on the other hand, was dining on steak Wednesday night when he learned Jones was in trouble yet again.
UFC 200 shifted its card again Wednesday night - McGregor was removed for refusing to promote the event, threatened to retire and then was denied when he begged White to be added - and is scrambling to find a new opponent for Cormier.
"I must have jinxed myself, because I kept going, 'Everything is going so smooth,'" White said of the buildup to UFC 200. "Nobody had been hurt. Everybody was healthy. So, yeah, this was a pretty brutal phone call."
White believed Jones was on a good path recently.
"He seems like a completely different person, the way he carries himself, the things that he's done, and then, boom, this happens," White said.
Jones now has the ability to have his "B" sample tested, according to White.
White said he hadn't spoken to Jones yet and didn't know what he we would say to him, adding, "We'll see what he says to me."
Jones (22-1) handed Cormier his only career loss via unanimous decision in January 2015. However, he was stripped of the title three months later following a hit-and-run incident in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M.
Cormier won the vacant title in his absence, and he was scheduled to fight the returning Jones in April. Cormier, though, had to pull out due to a leg injury, and Jones instead defeated Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision.
With the Jones-Cormier bout off, the main event at UFC 200 will be the Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt three-round heavyweight battle.
Lesnar has been away from cage fighting for more than five years, but was given a one-off contract to pause from professional wrestling to fight Hunt, a heavy-handed brawler.