Bellator have announced the signing of former UFC and PRIDE star Wanderlei Silva just weeks after he was released from his contract with Zuffa.

As things stand the 39 year-old is still serving a three year suspension from competition after fleeing a random NSAC drug test back in 2014, so he wouldn’t be eligible to make his Bellator debut until May 25th of 2017.

However, there is a potential loophole that Bellator could exploit by having Silva fight overseas or at Indian Casinos which are not included in the ban.

Read Bellator’s full press release to announce Silva’s signing below.

Bellator MMA is pleased to announce that one of the most popular, recognizable and beloved fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts, Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1), has signed an exclusive multi-year, multi-fight contract with the promotion. The 39-year-old publicly fielded offers from companies all around the world, but the former Pride FC Middleweight Champion made the decision to take his explosive style to Bellator MMA.

“The Axe Murderer” has fought in some of the most memorable feuds and battles the sport has ever seen. His wars with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Mirko Cro Cop, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Chuck Liddell, and Michael Bisping are the stuff of legend – but Silva is far from ready to close the book on his illustrious career.

In addition to his Pride FC Middleweight World Championship, Silva’s packed trophy case of accolades includes awards for Fight of the Year (2003, 2004, 2007), KO of the Year (2008), and multiple Fight of the Night awards including one for each of his last three fights, just to name a few. He now looks to continue to provide his award-winning, entertaining fights inside the Bellator cage.

Silva has several options for his first fight with Bellator. Although he has spent the majority of his career at 185-pounds, one of the things that his fans love most about him has been Wanderlei’s willingness to fight the best of the best – even if it was up two weight classes at heavyweight – as proven by his heavyweight wars against guys like Mark Hunt, Gilbert Yvel, Kazuyuki Fujita and Cro Cop; Or, his battles against light heavyweights like Ortiz, and his most recent opponent, Brian Stann, who he knocked out in the second frame.

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