The UFC has formally reinstated Jon Jones, who had been suspended since April after a hit-and-run incident that led to felony charges.
Jones, 28, the UFC’s former light heavyweight champion with a record of 21–1, was stripped of his 205-pound title after the arrest in Albuquerque, N.M. He pleaded guilty in September to a felony charge for leaving the scene of the accident. He will avoid jail time but was sentenced to up to 18 months of supervised probation and 72 charity appearances.
“I am thankful to be able to do what I love once again and I look forward to proving myself as a champion in and outside of the Octagon,” Jones said in a statement.
He has been reinstated to compete, effective immediately, and is expected to meet all terms of his plea agreement as a condition.
Jones pleaded guilty to fleeing the scene of a three-car accident on April 26, which injured a pregnant woman. He turned himself in the next day. The charges lost him a sponsorship deal with Reebok, in addition to the UFC’s sanctions.
“We’ve made it clear to Jon that this new opportunity to compete in UFC is a privilege and not a right, and that there are significant expectations we have regarding his conduct moving forward," said UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta in a statement. “We’re happy to read and see reports that he has embraced the terms of his plea agreement and is using this experience to grow and develop as a person.”
Jones also posted a statement on his Facebook page.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to resume my career and I am excited to show how much I’ve grown as a person outside of the octagon,” he said. “It took me losing almost everything I had worked for to realize how much I had. I am blessed and humbled by the continued support of the MMA community and I can’t thank my fans enough for their unwavering support through my ups and downs. This marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life and my career and let me assure you, the best is yet to come.”
The UFC said it is “currently discussing” a return date with Jones. There has been speculation that Jones’s first fight back will pit him against current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, whom Jones defeated by unanimous decision in January 2015. Cormier assumed the title after Jones’s suspension by defeating Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in May.
- Jeremy Woo