UFC strips Jones of belt, suspends him indefinitely
Published on Wednesday, 4/29/15, at 12:09 p.m. Eastern.
Less than a month before he was supposed to defend his light-heavyweight title for the ninth time, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones was stripped of his belt and suspended indefinitely by the UFC on Tuesday. Also, Reebok nixed its endorsement contract with the long-time 205-pound kingpin.
Jones became the UFC’s youngest champion when he won the belt from Shogun Rua in 2011 at the age of 23. At the age of 27 and in the prime of his career, Jones now faces legal woes and a long climb back to stardom.
He was allegedly the driver of a rented SUV that ran a red light and slammed into a car driven by a pregnant woman early Sunday morning. An off-duty cop saw Jones initially flee the scene, only to sprint back to grab “a handful of cash,” according to the report from the Albuquerque Police Department. The woman suffered a broken arm, but her pregnancy wasn’t believed to be impacted.
Jones has yet to be indicted, but he’s facing a felony charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident. He finally turned himself in to authorities late Monday night. Jones was subsequently released on $2,500 bond and made his first court appearance yesterday.
UFC President Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta flew to Albuquerque and met with Jones and his representatives on Tuesday. A few hours later, the decision to strip Jones of his belt was announced.
“UFC feels strongly that its athletes must uphold certain standards both in and out of the Octagon,” UFC said in a statement. “While there is disappointment in the recent changes, the organization remains supportive of Jones as he works through the legal process.”
Daniel Cormier will now replace Jones and face Anthony Johnson for the light heavyweight strap at UFC 187 in Las Vegas on May 23. Bovada opened Cormier as a -150 favorite, with Johnson as a +120 underdog.
Cormier had been scheduled to face Ryan Bader in the main event of a card in New Orleans on June 6. A decision on Bader has yet to be made, but he might be moved to another card.
The future for Jones is uncertain. One likely scenario is an out-of-court settlement for the woman injured in the crash. Since he fled the scene, the APD will have a difficult time proving he was impaired. He could avoid jail time, but a stint in rehab — one that lasts more than 24 hours like his last visit following a positive test for cocaine last December — is almost certainly on the horizon.