Wanderlei Silva is back. The former Pride FC legend has agreed to terms on a multi-year, multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA, emerging from a near two-year retirement after receiving release from his UFC contract in January. MMA Fighting confirmed the news Wednesday following an initial report from ESPN.
Silva, 39, announced his retirement in 2014 while under lifetime suspension from mixed martial arts for fleeing a random drug test ahead of a UFC 175 bout against Chael Sonnen. However Silva’s ban was ultimately reversed, as a Nevada district court judge ruled the punishment excessive in May 2015, and Silva was granted an amended three-year suspension at a February re-hearing with the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Per the terms of his suspension, Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) is allowed to return to active competition in the spring of 2017. The possibility exists that he could fight sooner though, especially given Bellator’s ties to Rizin, the Japanese promotion led by former Pride FC boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
Rizin expressed interest in Silva over recent months, and several fighters in the past — such as Vitor Belfort and Alexander Shlemenko — have disregarded stateside suspensions to compete overseas.
Either way, a timetable for Silva to make his Bellator debut has yet to be decided.
The Brazilian was one of the most ferocious fighters of his day, a renowned figure of the sport who gained international fame as the Pride FC middleweight champion during the heyday of the Japanese promotion. Silva last fought in March 2013, defeating Brian Stann via second-round knockout at UFC on Fuel TV 8.
Silva counts wins over the likes of Quinton “Ramage” Jackson, Dan Henderson, Michael Bisping, Cung Le, Kazushi Sakuraba (x3), Ricardo Arona, and others among his two-decade long résumé.
Source:: mma fighting