Josh Thomson Signs with Bellator MMA, Denies Report UFC Declined to Renew Contract

By Tristen Critchfield Aug 11, 2015
Josh Thomson is a UFC fighter no longer. | Photo: Dave Mandel/

Bellator MMA’ s lightweight talent pool just got a little bit deeper.

The California-based promotion announced on Tuesday evening that it has signed former UFC and Strikeforce talent Josh Thomson to an exclusive, multi-fight contract. The signing reunites Thomson with Bellator MMA President Scott Coker, with whom the fighter worked in Strikeforce.

“I had the pleasure of working with Josh in Strikeforce and I look forward to continuing this relationship in Bellator MMA. Josh is a world-class mixed martial artist and we are very happy to be adding him to our roster of some of the best lightweights in the world,” Coker said in a release. “We have some amazing matchups in mind for ‘The Punk’ that we hope to be announcing in the weeks to come.”

According to a report from, the UFC declined to offer Thomson a new contract after his most recent deal expired last month. However, Thomson refuted that notion that he was spurned by the Las Vegas-based promotion.

“I’m over here reading this UFC reporter saying that they’ve declined to re-sign me when the truth of the matter is that they’ve been trying to re-sign me for my last two fights. I declined and instead chose to fight out my contract and test the free agency market with Bellator,” Thomson said. “At that point, Bellator made me an offer that the UFC was unable to match given their relationships with Fox and Reebok. It’s a done deal; I’m back working with Coker, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back to an organization that is trending upwards with fighter-friendly contracts. Any intelligent fighter is going to go where the money is, and for me the money was at Bellator.”

Thomson ended his UFC tenure on a three-fight losing streak, dropping split-verdicts against Benson Henderson and Bobby Green before falling more decisively to Tony Ferguson in his last outing at UFC Fight Night “Mir vs. Duffee.” The American Kickboxing Academy product compiled a 3-4 mark over two separate stints with the Las Vegas-based promotion.

“The Punk” experienced his greatest success in Strikeforce, where he captured lightweight gold and defeated the likes Duane Ludwig, Nam Phan, Pat Healy, Gesias Cavalcante and K.J. Noons. He also notably went 1-2 in three title bouts against Gilbert Melendez.

The 36-year-old Thomson is 20-8 with one no contest over the course of a professional career that began in 2001.


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