Long-time UFC fighter Lyoto Machida has become the last high-profile fighter to make the leap over to the Bellator promotion.
The 40-year-old Machida has signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator after testing his worth on the open market following the conclusion of his UFC contract.
“We got a call from his management that was going to become a free agent about two weeks ago, and when I say free agent, they said matching rights,” Bellator CEO Scott Coker told MMAjunkie. “Then we had a nice meeting and I felt really good about it, and we submitted an offer and we were waiting to see if Zuffa matched it or not, and I think it was today that they said they weren’t going to, and we were free to move forward with our signing.”
Not so long ago the former light-heavyweight champion appeared to be a spent force, having lost three of his last four fights, including back-to-back KO losses.
However, ‘The Dragon’ then rose from that slump with two wins in a row, most notably sending Vitor Belfort into retirement courtesy of a first-round front kick KO last time out.
That means Machida enters into Bellator with some momentum behind him, and Coker is looking forward to finding some big fights for the Brazilian star.
“To me, he’s one of the big stars of MMA, and he proved it still has it when he knocked out Vitor Belfort,” Coker said. “I’ve always appreciated the traditional martial arts fighting style, and he seemed like a really good guy. I believe that he could be a great asset to our roster. He’ll fight at 185 and 205. He wants to fight at both weights, and we’ve got a lot of guys that he can fight.”