A month after his guilty plea agreement, the Ultimate Fighting Championship reinstated former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, according to a statement released by the UFC.
“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,” via UFC.com.
Jones, 28, was stripped of the UFC Light Heavyweight title after leaving the scene of an April auto accident in Albuquerque. Although felony charges were filed, state prosecutors reached a deal with Jones, who pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation. Under the terms of the deal, Jones is allowed to travel for work-related purposes and take part in 72 youth outreach appearances.
Speculation has blossomed as to who Jones’ next opponent may be. As one of the UFC’s most potent pay-per-view draws, promotion officials are likely eager to insert Jones into a card as quickly as possible, even though the UFC website has not, at publication time, reentered him into their rankings. The unique circumstances surrounding Jones’ status in the light heavyweight division — he is the only champion to have ever been stripped of a title by the UFC — suggest a quick return to contender status.
The current champion at 205 pounds, Daniel Cormier, is coming off a successful title defense over Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 192 on Oct. 3. Jones’ last title defense was a win over Cormier in January, with Cormier defeating Anthony Johnson in May to claim the then-vacated title. Also of note is that the UFC has not yet formally announced Cormier’s next opponent, although Johnson is currently listed as the top-ranked contender while Ryan Bader also won a contender’s match at UFC 192 against Rashad Evans.