ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jon "Bones" Jones reclaimed his UFC light heavyweight title by stopping Daniel Cormier on Saturday.
And it was a long road back after 2 1/2 years of drama for the New York native who trains in Albuquerque.
Jones (23-1) was suspended by the UFC and had his title stripped due to his role in an Albuquerque hit-and-run accident in 2015.
According to Albuquerque police, Jones ran a red light and crashed a rented Buick SUV into another vehicle driven by a pregnant woman. Jones then left the car before returning to grab a handful of cash and fled the scene again, police said.
Then, a positive drug test knocked him out of UFC 200's main event and threw his troubled career into crisis.
After Saturday's win in Anaheim, California, an emotional Jones said he was more grateful for having the title after not having it.
"It's surreal to be back here," said Jones, who trains at Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque. "At one point in my career, I took it all for granted ... I feel like I have a new beginning."
Unlike when Albuquerque's Holly Holm won the UFC bantamweight title two years ago, few elected officials in New Mexico openly congratulated Jones after his win. There was no immediate announcement on a Jones parade in Albuquerque like Holm, and no declaration for a "Jon Jones Month" in New Mexico.
Still, many Albuquerque residents celebrated the Jones victory and have compared him to the late boxing champion Johnny Tapia, who also led a troubled life.
Sports bars around Albuquerque were packed with MMA fans overwhelmingly supporting Jones.
Jones' talent is indisputable after winning the 205-pound title in 2011 and defending it eight times. But he has endured numerous troubles of his own making in recent years.
He has failed drug tests around two of his last three fights. He tested positive for cocaine use shortly before beating Cormier in their first meeting in January 2015, but was allowed to fight because the detected metabolite was not banned for out-of-competition use by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
A few months later, Jones was suspended by the UFC for the Albuquerque accident.
Jones, 30, said his life "is still a work in progress."