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
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
Williams and Andrei
Arlovski before losing the UFC title in his first defense to
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.
Rodriguez was last seen in the ring at Israel FC: Genesis, where he
attempted to cut to light heavyweight for a bout against Spaniard
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.