Friday, June 22, 2018

The UFC typically offers fighters a new contract, prior to their final fight. Most fighters take it, but some take a chance, and let their contract expire in order to test the free market for their talents. It’s a risk, as if they lose that final fight, their worth goes down.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida took a gamble, and won. Ariel Helwani reported from his new home at ESPN that Lyoto Machida had verbally agreed to a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA. Machida, 40, is coming off a KO win over Vitor Belfort and is on a two-fight win streak.

Bellator president confirmed the story, and informed Steven Marrocco and Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie that the deal had been signed.

“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,” said Coker. “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.”

“To me, he’s one of the big stars of MMA, and he proved it still has it when he knocked out Vitor Belfort. 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.”

It is speculative, but Machida may have soured on the UFC after he received a widely criticized 18-month suspension after disclosing that he was taking an over the counter supplement 7-Keto. This was a reduction of six months from the standard two-year suspension for a first time failure, as Machida voluntarily disclosed the information, and did not know it was prohibited. The fighter protested the decision on his social network, and during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour. Machida did not fight from June 27, 2015, to October 28, 2017. Another unsuccessful USADA test could have resulted in a suspension of three or four years, effectively the end of Machida’s career given his age.

No first fight has been announced for Machida, but winner of the Rory MacDonald vs. Gegard Mousasi middleweight title fight on September 29 is a great one.

Image courtesy of Facebook.