Bellator Fighting Championships on Friday announced the signing of former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato "Babalu" Sobral, who will make his Bellator debut in 2013 as part of the promotion’s next 205-pound tournament.

“I’m really happy to be a part of the Bellator family,” Sobral said in the official release. “This is my new home, and I can’t wait to get into the tournament...I’m going to take this opportunity and get my shot at the Bellator world title.”

Sobral, 37, made his professional MMA debut in 1997 and would go on to challenge Chuck Liddell for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2006 before receiving his release from the promotion the following year. Though unsuccessful in his attempt to capture a UFC belt, the Brazilian would strike gold in then-rival promotion Strikeforce, finishing Bobby Southworth in 2008 to take the title. Sobral dropped the belt to Gegard Mousasi in 2009 but has since won two of his last three, most recently submitting former Dream grand prix finalist Tatsuya Mizuno with an armbar in just 31 seconds on June 23 at One Fighting Championship 4.

“Babalu is an awesome addition to the Bellator family,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “He’s beaten some of the greatest fighters in the sport and poses a tremendous threat to every fighter in our light heavyweight division. From a fan’s perspective, he’s incredibly exciting to watch, and I’m expecting big things from Babalu in January on Spike.”

Bellator is currently nearing the conclusion of its 2012 Summer Series. The third and final event of the shortened season takes place Aug. 24 and will serve to crown the next challenger for reigning light heavyweight king Christian M’Pumbu when tournament finalists Attila Vegh and Travis Wiuff collide. Additionally, Bellator 73 will be headlined by a featherweight championship showdown pitting champion Pat Curran against Season 4 tournament winner Patricio Freire. Currently airing all programming on MTV2, Bellator will broadcast its live content on Spike TV beginning in 2013.

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