Bellator MMA Signs UFC, Pride Veteran Wanderlei Silva to Multi-Fight Contract

By Tristen Critchfield Mar 2, 2016
Wanderlei Silva has ended his retirement to sign a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA.

The Scott Coker-led promotion announced the deal on Wednesday. There is currently no target date set for Silva’s Bellator debut. Silva retired from mixed martial arts in 2014 after receiving a lifetime ban from the Nevada Athletic Commission for fleeing a drug test.

That ban was later overturned by a Nevada district court judge, who ruled that the NAC’s actions were “arbitrary, capricious and not supported by substantial evidence.” Silva appeared before the commission for a rehearing on Feb. 17 and was handed a three-year suspension retroactive to May 24, 2014, meaning that he won’t be eligible for reinstatement until May 25, 2017. Silva must submit a clean drug test before applying for a new license at that point. However, he could fight outside Nevada before then, although that could lead to further licensing issues down the road. Silva could also compete for newly-formed Japanese promotion Rizin, which had Bellator MMA fighters on its New Year’s Eve card.

“The Axe Murderer” was released from his UFC contract in January shortly after he issued an apology for previously accusing the organization of fixing fights. Silva appeared at Bellator’s Fanfest prior to the California-based promotion’s tent-pole event in Houston last month.

Silva, 39, hasn’t competed since a second-round knockout victory over Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8 on March 3, 2013. The 35-year-old former Pride Fighting Championships standout owns a 35-12-1 career mark, with 25 victories by KO or TKO.

While Silva has fought primarily at middleweight, a release from promotion suggests that he could compete at either light heavyweight or heavyweight in Bellator as well.

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