Jon Jones, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion, has had his contract with Reebok terminated, just a day after being stripped of his UFC title of light-heavyweight champion. Following the loss of his title, the fighter known as “Bones” was suspended from the sport indefinitely. The actions came as a result of allegations of his involvement in a three-car traffic accident on Sunday, April 26, where he allegedly injured a pregnant woman. Valerie Sonnenberg, the victim of the crash, stated that she felt like she was going to pass out before being taken to the hospital, where she was administered treatment for a broken wrist. She also planned to go for an ultrasound to ensure that the baby was okay.
An off-duty police officer reported that he spotted Jones fleeing in a silver car, which he identified as a 2015 Buick. He then spotted the former champion darting back to the car in order to retrieve a large amount of cash before running off a second time. Police searched the car and found paperwork from a car rental agency, which revealed Jones as the party on the rental agreement. Also found was a pipe containing marijuana.
After several attempts by the police on Sunday to contact Jones as a “person of interest” following the collision, an arrest warrant was issued for the boxing superstar. Jones turned himself in on Monday and was taken to an Albuquerque jail, where he was later released on a $2,500 bond. Police stated that because of the injuries sustained by Sonnenberg, and Jones’ attempt to flee the scene, misdemeanor charges were upgraded to felonies, which could carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
The eight-time defending champion had held his title since 2011, making him the youngest martial arts fighter in UFC history to do so. Although Jones was considered to be the among the best in his field, the former champion has had a questionable record of legal issues and behavior. In 2012, Jones was charged with DWI following an accident in Binghamton, N.Y., where he crashed into a telephone pole while driving his Bentley. Then, in August of last year, Jones was fined $50,000 as a result of a fistfight with challenger Daniel Cormier in the MGM Grand casino, which occurred in the lobby, while the two were attending a promotion. He was also forced to do community service by the order of the Nevada Athletic Commission. As recently as December, while in training for one of his matches, the fighter’s test results came up positive for having cocaine metabolite in his system. After this information became public, he apologized for what he termed a “mistake,” and was only required to spend one day in drug rehabilitation. Since he was preparing for a bout at UFC 187 in Las Vegas at that time, the UFC allowed him to compete and the champion went on to defeat Cormier.
Prior to his arrest, suspension, and having his contract with Reebok terminated, Jones was scheduled to compete for the defense of his title against challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at the same venue where he beat Cormier six months earlier. This match was supposed to be one of the biggest events of the year.
The apparel giant Reebok recently signed several sponsorship deals with UFC fighters, in which it is one of the program’s largest sponsors. Jones was one of its most high-profile fighters in the MMA, and Reebok had featured him in a promotion for its ZPump Pump shoes. Prior to his contract being terminated by Reebok, Jones apologized to his followers on Twitter, stating that he had “a lot of soul searching to do.”
By Bill Ades