Bellator snags another free agent! ESPN reports that former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida has signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida has signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator. Machida joins several notable UFC contenders who have chosen to sign with the promotion in free agency. Currently, there is no news on his debut although he is expected to fight before the end of 2018.
Machida leaves the UFC with a 24-8 record with 16 of those victories coming inside the Octagon. He most impressively has been a perennial top five ranked fighter across two weight classes for the better part of a decade. His biggest career victory was winning the light-heavyweight championship in 2009. In the UFC, he defeated notable fighters such as Rashad Evans, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Ryan Bader, Dan Henderson and others. Recently, he is coming off of back-to-back victories over Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort.
The Brazilian contender originally rose to prominence after opening his career undefeated at 16-0. Prior to even entering the UFC, he had already amassed victories over notable names such as Rich Franklin, BJ Penn, and Stephan Bonnar. After entering the UFC, he put together an eight fight win-streak. Upon winning the light-heavyweight championship, UFC commentator Joe Rogan memorably announced it as the beginning of “The Machida Era” as his unorthodox Karate style had thoroughly frustrated every opponent and showed no signs of slowing down at the time.
Machida was listed at #9 in the UFC’s official middleweight rankings, but has now been pulled from the list. While it would appear that the UFC was interested in moving forward with “The Dragon,” the decision could well have come down to the opportunities available. Prior to 2018, Machida was 0-3 in the last three years. He also was suspended for two years in 2015 after being flagged for an illegal substance by USADA. At 40 years old, the general consensus was that another title run at middleweight or light-heavyweight in the UFC was not likely for what could well be the tail-end of Machida’s career.
By signing with Bellator, Machida immediately becomes a major player in the promotion. At a time when both 185 and 205 are lacking for contenders, Machida is a breath of fresh air. It should be noted, he also holds victories over middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and light-heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. He also joins his brother Chinzo Machida on the Bellator roster.