Sources: Former UFC Champ Rodriguez Not Signed for Bellator 205-Pound Tournament

By Mike Whitman Feb 18, 2011
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez has not signed a contract to fight for Bellator Fighting Championships’ upcoming season.

“Suave” made the announcement during an appearance on MMA Weekly radio on Friday:

“To be honest with you, I signed the Bellator contract and [we are] just waiting to get permission from MTV. Everyone wants me to do something, but they’re just concerned with my past, if I’m going to be hard to work with,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a great opportunity for Bellator. I would love to fight in that competition. It’s going to be great exposure. I just think Bellator’s going to blow up on the scene.”

Sherdog.com has learned from a source close to the promotion that Rodriguez has not signed with Bellator, therefore rendering rumors of Rodriguez's possible participation in the upcoming fourth-season light heavyweight tournament unlikely. According to the source, eight competitors plus an alternate are greenlit to compete in the tournament, and Rodriguez is not among them.

Following that lead, Sherdog.com then contacted another source close to the situation, who asserted that Rodriguez had simply jumped the gun on his announcement and that a verbal agreement was made between the parties pending approval from MTV. Bellator’s season four events will air live on MTV2.

Sherdog.com's source close to the promotion stated that only casual talks have taken place recently between Rodriguez and Bellator.

Rodriguez’s manager, Ken Pavia, issued this statement when contacted for comment:

“Ricco is in continuing negotiations with Bellator while hoping they will be able to make the deal. We believe there is mutual interest. It is Ricco's sincere desire to not only compete in Bellator, but hopefully end his career in Bellator.”

Formerly the UFC's top heavyweight, Rodriguez was once a dominant force in the division, racking up wins over such notables as Randy Couture, Pete Williams and Andrei Arlovski before losing the UFC title in his first defense to Tim Sylvia in 2003. A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the 33-year-old has submitted nearly half of his career victims. Rodriguez has struggled with his weight in recent years and also made an appearance on reality show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”

Rodriguez was last seen in the ring at Israel FC: Genesis, where he attempted to cut to light heavyweight for a bout against Spaniard Daniel Tabera. The natural heavyweight could reportedly only make it down to 215 pounds, however, and the bout was contested at that catchweight. Rodriguez has won his last 10 contests, finishing eight fights by knockout or submission.
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