Bellator MMA has signed former UFC light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko to a multi-fight, multi-year contract.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed the signing to on Wednesday.

“He came in and met with us,” Rebney said. “We sat here in the office and we had a really long meeting. He is convinced at this stage of his career that he is at a place that he can really still excel and compete at a very high level.”

Matyushenko (26-7) was released by the UFC in February after he lost back to back fights in the organization. This was his second stint with the UFC, which he had a record of 4-3. His last two victories came by TKO/KO in the first round and his last five fights have not made it out of the first round.

“Bellator is one of the biggest promotions in the world, and to be associated with them is an honor,” Matyushenko said. “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 was cut from the UFC at the same time that Jon Fitch was released, but Bellator elected to pass on signing Fitch. Rebney stated in the past that signing fighters from the UFC is done on a case by case basis and he feels that Matyushenko fits into their light heavyweight division.

“The guy is 26-7. If you look down the list of the loses, he has lost to big names. When he loses, he loses to guys with very big names and he thinks he stay has gas in the tank. He feels that literally a couple of very good years left in front of him right now to compete at a very high level.”

“He looked at 205, we have the Emanuel Newton’s of the world, Mikhail Zayats and then we have [King] Mo coming back, Babalu and people like that. He just fit into this 205 division right now. We have extremely well known names and we got guys who can compete at a very high level that nobody has ever heard of and are working up that ladder real quick.”

Matyushenko will make his Bellator debut later this year in Bellator during the Summer Series or at the beginning of season nine in the fall. Unlike King Mo and Babalu, he will not be immediately placed into a tournament and could be a participant during a 2014 light heavyweight tournament.

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