Rumors have been swirling that Cheick Kongo's departure from the UFC was leading him toward a Bellator contract, and now it appears that those rumors have been confirmed. MMA Weekly reports that sources close to the heavyweight fighter can confirm that he has signed a contract with the Viacom promotion.
It's a little surprising considering how vehement Kongo was in denying his separation from the UFC. Following his exit he initially took to Facebook, looking to dispel reports that he had been cut and/or released from his UFC contract.
"Do not believe everything you are told. Don't believe he said/she said stories. I have not been cut by the UFC. I am Cheick Kongo, so I know best what's next for me. It doesn't mean that I am leaving the UFC. It doesn't mean that I am staying. It means this is my life."
From a certain perspective it's fair to say that Kongo has left the UFC for a better offer, but however you spin it, this is most likely the final word in his chapter with the promotion. Considering his age and the notoriously acerbic relations between the UFC and Bellator it's hard to imagine that he'll find his way back to the octagon.
It's worth noting that Kongo and Rampage are both Wolfslair fighters, and close friends. I have little doubt that their friendship, and Rampage's newly announced deal, greased the wheels for Bellator in negotiating with Kongo. There are currently no details of the contract available and no word, as of yet, as to when he'll make his promotional debut. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the story unfolds.