The Ultimate Fighting Championship today announced the reinstatement of former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones had been suspended since an April hit-and-run case, coming a few months after a cocaine test positive a well as a late night car crash.
Dana White had said previously that if Jones was reinstated, he could immediately challenge for the championship that he never lost. The title is currently held by Daniel Cormier, who Jones defeated via decision on Jan. 3 in one of UFC’s biggest pay-per-view shows of recent years. A Cormier vs. Jones title match would be expected next on the agenda.
Jones pleaded guilty to one felony charge and was given 18 months probation and 72 appearances for either charity of speaking with children, which was meant to be one per week during his probation period.
The UFC released this statement this morning.
“Following a review of the plea agreement reached by Jon Jones and officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the judge’s decision, UFC announced today the formal reinstatement of Jones to the UFC roster. Effective immediately, Jones is eligible to return to competition. As such, UFC expects Jones to meet all the terms of his plea agreement, including mandatory community service, as a condition of his reinstatement.
UFC is currently discussing with Jones a potential date for his return to the Octagon.
`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. `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.’
`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.”
Jones also said on Facebook: “It took me losing almost everything I had worked for to realize how much I had.”
Jones, who has a 21-1 record, is generally considered the most talented fighter in the history of the sport. In his 22 pro fights, he won every one of them handily with the exception of a close decision win over Alexander Gustafsson. His lone loss, to Matt Hamill, was via disqualification in a one-sided fight where he had destroyed Hamill the entire fight.
At 24, he was the youngest champion in UFC history when he defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to win the title. With eight title defenses, he was on the verge of Anderson Silva’s record of ten when the title was stripped from him due to his suspension.
“Congrats to Jon `Bones’ Jones on his reinstatement to the UFC,” wrote Cormier on Facebook. “For MMA fans, this is a good day. A guy that has shown to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time is back. As a competitor, there could be no other outcome and this is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Jon has said the right things and his actions are backing his words up. We all hope this is the last time we have to deal with anything like that. And lastly, as a fan, you get to see two of the best fighters compete against each other. With that being said, I can’t wait to compete against him again.”