Jon Jones is officially cleared to return to the Octagon. The former UFC light heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound great was "formally reinstated" to the UFC roster on Friday after serving an indefinite suspension for his involvement in an April hit-and-run accident that left one pregnant victim with a broken arm.
Jones, 28, is eligible to return to UFC competition "effective immediately," according to a statement released by the promotion. As expected, Jones is required to complete the terms of his plea agreement as a condition of his reinstatement.
An anticipated date for Jones' first fight back is currently in discussion, according to 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 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."
In a subsequent statement, Jones expressed remorse for his actions and vowed that "the best is yet to come."
Jones was arrested on April 27 after running a red light in a rented SUV and causing a three-car collision in Albuquerque, NM. Jones initially fled the scene of the accident, according to witnesses, then returned for a handful of cash and fled once more. Jones turned himself into police the day after the accident.
The victim, Vanessa Sonnenberg, fully recovered and sustained no permanent damage from her injuries, according to Jones' attorney Vincent Ward. Authorities also found a marijuana pipe within Jones' vehicle.
The reaction to Jones' latest run-in with police was swift and decisive from the UFC, as Jones was immediately stripped of his long-held UFC title and suspended indefinitely by the organization.
Jones ultimately pled guilty to one felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident and was granted a conditional discharge by Judge Charles Brown in Bernalillo County Second Judicial District Court. The terms of his plea deal ordered Jones to 18 months of supervised probation and 72 charity speaking appearances with children over the course of his probation.
Jones will not be convicted of a felony if he fulfills the terms of his probation.
In Jones' stead, Daniel Cormier submitted Anthony Johnson via third-round rear-naked choke to claim the vacant UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 187. Cormier defended his title earlier this month, outpointing Alexander Gustafsson in a dramatic five-round war of attrition.
Jones (21-1) defeated Cormier on Jan. 3 via unanimous decision. The fight marked Jones' UFC record eighth consecutive light heavyweight title defense and was Jones' last fight as champion prior to the incident.
Jones became the youngest UFC champion in history when he captured the belt at 23 years old in 2011 with a devastating victory over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Over the course of his reign, Jones defeated the likes of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Gustafsson, and Glover Teixeira, among others.
Jones is widely considered to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
"I am thankful to be able to do what I love once again," Jones said, "and I look forward to proving myself as a champion in and outside of the Octagon."
MMA Hour Daniel Cormier is ready for Jon Jones