UFC lifts suspension of Jon Jones

ByBrett Okamoto ESPN logo
Friday, October 23, 2015

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is officially clear to return to the Octagon.

The UFC announced on Friday it has lifted an indefinite suspension placed on Jones in late April. The promotion suspended Jones, 28, and stripped him of the 205-pound title after he was arrested on hit-and-run charges in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Last month, Jones pleaded guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident. He was sentenced to up to 18 months of supervised probation and 72 charity appearances, but avoided jail time and court-mandated travel restrictions. The UFC reviewed Jones' plea deal with its attorneys in Las Vegas prior to his reinstatement.

"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," UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said 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 posted a statement on his Facebook page in response to the news.

"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. 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," he said.

Jones (21-1) is expected to challenge current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (17-1) for the title immediately upon his return. The UFC said it is currently "discussing" a potential date with Jones.

Jones is the first UFC champion to lose his belt because of disciplinary reasons. He became the youngest champion in the promotion's history in March 2011, when he won the light heavyweight championship at 23. He recorded eight successful title defenses before being stripped.

He pleaded guilty to fleeing the scene of a three-car accident on April 26 that resulted in a pregnant woman receiving treatment for an arm injury. Jones turned himself in to authorities the following day. In addition to losing his title and the indefinite suspension, Jones lost an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok.

Cormier claimed the vacant light heavyweight belt by submitting Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in May. Prior to Jones' legal issues, he had defeated Cormier via unanimous decision in his eighth title defense at UFC 182 in January. Jones is still the No. 1-ranked light heavyweight in the world, according to ESPN.com.

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