Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho will become a free agent on May 26.
Prior to his most recent title defense, a first-round knockout over Alessio Sakara in December, Carvalho told MMA Fighting he was hoping to negotiate a better deal with the promotion before returning to the cage, but he’s entering Bellator 200 on the last fight of his current deal.
“We’ll see what the future holds for me, if I will continue in the promotion or not,” Carvalho told MMA Fighting on Friday. “Bellator has the preference, of course. I’ve always made that clear, but we’ll see how things go in the future.”
Carvalho headlines Bellator 200 in London, England, on May 25, against former Strikeforce champion and UFC veteran Gegard Mousasi, and hasn’t been offered a new deal by Bellator. In fact, he prefers it this way.
“They haven’t reached out to me, and I think that gives me an advantage because I’ll be on top (after the fight),” Carvalho said. “If they want me in the company, they have to value me more. It’s even better for me.
“I have to think about myself first, and then the organization. Fighters have short careers, so I have to be selfish now.”
Carvalho (15-1) is riding a 15-fight winning streak, knocking out four of the six opponents he’s faced inside the Bellator cage and successfully defending his crown three times against Melvin Manhoef (twice) and Sakara.
Mousasi (43-6-2) won six fights in a row ahead of Bellator 200, scoring a close decision win over Alexander Shlemenko. Mousasi became a free agent and left the UFC in 2017 following wins over Chris Weidman, Uriah Hall, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Santos and Thales Leites.