Bellator officials announced Thursday that UFC veteran and former IFL champion Vladimir Matyushenko has signed to compete for the Viacom-owned promotion. Though Matyushenko’s debut date was not announced, Bellator’s official press release stated that the 42-year-old will soon make his promotional foray live on Spike TV in a non-tournament bout.
“Bellator is one of the biggest promotions in the world, and to be associated with them is an honor,” Matyushenko said in the release. “I am optimistic and excited to work with Bellator. The amount of respect and honor I felt from Bjorn and the entire Bellator team was tremendous, and getting into the Bellator cage and cementing my legacy as a Bellator world champion is the only thing on my mind.”
Matyushenko made his professional debut in 1997 and captured the International Fight League light heavyweight crown a decade later, defending that title once before signing with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2009. The Belarusian posted a 4-3 record during his time in the Octagon, besting the likes of Igor Pokrajac and Jason Brilz before exiting the promotion earlier this year on the heels of back-to-back losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Ryan Bader.
“Vladimir is a fighter I’ve watched for years. He’s an exciting fighter with an incredible wrestling background and a great pedigree in our sport. When the opportunity presented itself and we had the chance to have him join the Bellator family, it was a very easy decision to make,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “With our champion Attila Vegh sitting at the top of the mountain right now, and with guys like Emanuel Newton, Mikhail Zayats and ‘King Mo’ coming on strong, the light heavyweight division for Bellator continues to evolve, and Vladimir should fit in perfectly to that mix.”