Lyoto Machida (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Former UFC Champion Lyoto Machida Joins Bellator MMA

Lyoto Machida’s time with the UFC has come to an end but his MMA career is not over. “The Dragon” is headed to Bellator MMA.

An initial report from ESPN today indicated the former UFC light heavyweight champion had verbally agreed to a multi-fight deal with the organization. reported that the contract was formally signed the same day.

Bellator has since made an official announcement. 


“Bellator is pleased to announce the signing of former world champion Lyoto Machida to an exclusive, multi-fight agreement. We look forward to seeing ‘The Dragon’ compete inside the Bellator cage in the near future.”

Machida has yet to offer a comment although he posted the following tweet following his UFC 224 victory over Vitor Belfort on May 24.

The now 40-year-old middleweight exited the UFC following a two-fight winning streak for 2018. Machida’s front-kick knockout of Belfort at UFC 224 last month in their home country of Brazil marked ends for both men. The fight was the last on Machida’s contract and Belfort officially entered retirement.

Machida captured the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 98 in  2009 via a second-round knockout of Rashad Evans. He then went 1-1 in title defenses against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, losing the belt at UFC 113 in May of 2010.

The karate stylist would fall to Jon Jones in his last title shot before moving to middleweight in 2013. Machida would then face Chris Weidman for the 185-pound belt, losing by unanimous decision at UFC 175 the next year.

Following an even 3-3 run after the loss to Weidman, the highlight-reel finish of Belfort got Machida a “Performance of the Night” bonus of $50,000.

Machida (24-8 in MMA, 0-0 in Bellator) joins his older brother, 41-year-old featherweight Chinzo, under the Bellator banner. Chinzo last competed at Bellator 180 against James Gallagher in June of last year but promotion officials confirmed to Combat Press that he remains under contract.

No details concerning Lyoto’s Bellator debut have been announced at this time.