By Mary Hudetz
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. _ UFC champion fighter Jon “Bones” Jones pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge stemming from a hit-and-run crash in Albuquerque that injured a pregnant woman, saying he took full responsibility for what the judge called a “stupid decision” in the moments following the accident.
Jones’ plea to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury was entered in New Mexico district court. He will avoid jail time and serve up to 18 months of supervised probation under his plea agreement.
Judge Charles Brown also waived a conviction for Jones, meaning he will not have the felony on his record if he meets the terms of his probation. The 28-year-old fighter has been ordered to schedule 72 speaking engagements, one for each week of his probation, at area schools and martial arts centres to explain to youth how bad choices can undo years of hardwork.
Shortly after his arrest, the UFC stripped Jones of his light heavyweight title and suspended him from fighting.
“Ever since he walked away from that car, he’s done everything he can to make amends,” defence attorney Vincent Ward told the judge.
Jones, who trains in Albuquerque, will be allowed to travel to fights and promotional events while on probation.
Citing witnesses, authorities say the crash in April happened when a rental SUV that Jones was driving ran a red light. He then fled the scene, and returned quickly to grab a handful of cash from the vehicle.
The crash sent a woman to the hospital with a broken arm.
Ward said in court that Jones had reached out to make amends with the woman, who the defence attorney said had recovered.
Ward also noted that Jones turned himself in to authorities to comply with an arrest warrant after the accident.
Jones (21-1) has endured legal problems during much of his championship tenure. In 2012, he was arrested after crashing his Bentley into a telephone pole in Binghamton, New York. He had his driver’s license suspended after being charged with DWI. He did no jail time.
Last year, Jones and fighter Daniel Cormier were involved in a brawl in the lobby of the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas while appearing at a promotional event. Jones was fined $50,000 and ordered to do community service by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
After the crash in April, officers found a pipe with marijuana in the SUV as well as MMA documents in Jones’ name, according to a police report.
“I think this has been a huge wake-up call for Mr. Jones,” Ward said.
UFC President Dana White attended the hearing Tuesday and said a decision about Jones’ status with the UFC would come later.
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