Stop Vacating Victories

Written by: Shane Shoemaker

Jon Jones’ defeat over his long-time rival, Daniel Cormier, at UFC 214 in July has been changed to a no-contest decision.

No one was really surprised over this news. Jones has had multiple issues involving anything from drugs and even a hit-and-run case while in UFC that involved him getting lengthy suspensions and the stripping of his title. But this suspension, unlike the others, came after one of his bouts, and it therefore caused a change of decision to the match.

A similar situation happened last year when Brock Lesnar made his return to the UFC and defeated Mark Hunt. However, when it was determined that Lesnar had been flagged for an anti-doping issue, the decision was then changed to a no-contest.

I think it’s time we finally ask what the purpose is of vacating victories, or other certain achievements, from the record books after a violation of organizational rules occurs?

I’ve been asking this question since the USC and Reggie Bush scandal back in 2010. Bush was stripped of and willingly forfeited the Heisman Trophy almost five years after winning it, for receiving improper benefits while attending USC. To this day, Bush is the only person to ever relinquish his Heisman award in the record books and the trophy itself. Subsequently, there isn’t a Heisman Trophy winner for the 2005 season — even though we all know who won it.

The University on the other hand had to vacate its final two wins for the 2004 season, which included the Rose Bowl game against UCLA and the BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma. They also had to vacate all their wins from the 2005 season.

But again, we all know who won those games.

And that’s really my point — we all know who the victors were in those contests, it doesn’t change anything as far as history goes, and it can’t give victories to the opponents they defeated or change their history for the better.

The NCAA is notorious for stripping away victories from universities whom they’ve found that violated their rules because, well, NCAA is gonna NCAA with their often time nonsensical rules. (That’s another story altogether.) They’ve stripped school’s of victories, awards, trophies and championships.

But what does that really prove?


Taking away Jon Jones’ title is one thing — he should have to vacate the title — but taking away the victory, acting like it never happened, is absurd. Anyone who wants to go back and see Jones and Cormier from UFC 214 years later can go watch it and see for themselves who won. That won’t change. This idea is nearly as dumb as people trying to take down historical statues around the country thinking it would change history somehow.
I understand in Jones’ case taking away his title, because that’s a championship that’s defended ever throughout the year; there isn’t an offseason in combat sports. In other sports, it’s not that way. Though USC back in 2005 was the “defending National Champions,” it didn’t mean they had to be present in the National Championship game to determine the champion. They were just the champion of that particular season.

Some will say vacating a team or individual of their victories is that of an integrity move, a show of respect to the individual(s) that were cheated against. But honestly, I think if a league or organization determines an athlete cheated somehow, went against their rules, then they will try to prove how large they really are, as sort of a stick it to them move, and they then strip teams, universities or players of their accomplishments.

Look, you can hit the backspace button or bring all the erasers out you want, but it won’t change what actually happened on the respective playing fields. History is undeniable because of eyewitnesses.

Though it may not be the way an organization wants it to be remembered or give anyone like Jones the acknowledgement of accomplishment, what happened … happened. The event is here and gone with no DeLorean to jump into to hop back into the past and change history.

Give hefty fines to the universities and-or individuals, give suspensions, but don’t try to attempt to change things we know that happened.

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