In a surprise move Veteran lightweight fighter Josh Thomson has left the UFC and has now signed up with rival promotion Bellator.

The reason for the switch is the subject of some debate, with an initial report from MMAFighting.com suggesting that the UFC had opted not to offer him a new deal.

However, Thomson himself later came out to deny that was the case and instead insisted that it was his decision to leave in order to secure a more lucrative deal with Bellator.

“I’m over here reading this UFC reporter saying that they’ve declined to re-sign me when the truth of the matter is that they’ve been trying to re-sign me for my last two fights,” Thomson stated in a Bellator press release. “I declined and instead chose to fight out my contract and test the free agency market with Bellator. At that point, Bellator made me an offer that the UFC was unable to match given their relationships with FOX and Reebok.”

Dana White has since threw his weight behind the initial report, stating that, “We told them we weren’t interested. We released Josh. We didn’t even want to match. He was free to deal with whoever he wanted to after his last fight and they knew we weren’t going to match.”

An email from Thomson’s manager Bob Cook to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva just a few days ago was also obtained by MMAfighting.com which indicated that they had contacted the UFC to see if they would match Bellator’s offer, but apparently hadn’t received a reply.

Whatever the reason for the move, Thomson appears to be happy enough and is looking forward to working with his old Strikeforce boss Scott Coker again.

“It’s a done deal, I’m back working with Coker, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back to an organization that is trending upwards with fighter-friendly contracts,” Thomson said. “Any intelligent fighter is going to go where the money is, and for me the money was at Bellator.”

A former Strikeforce lightweight champion, Thomson’s second stint in the UFC lasted four fights, but a win over Nate Diaz upon his return which resulted in talk of a potential title shot, he’s since lost three fights in a row.

The quality of the opposition was high though and he only lost out by split decision to both Ben Henderson and Bobby Green, together with a unanimous decision defeat to the high-flying Tony Ferguson.

So, the 36 year-old Thomson is still an asset for whichever promotion he chooses to fight for and Bellator will no doubt be delighted to have him on-board to bolster their lightweight roster which currently finds Will Brooks as champion with the likes of Michael Chandler, Melvin Guillard and Patricky ‘Pitbull’ Freire also being potential opponents for ‘The Punk’.

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