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Frank Mir joins Benson Henderson as latest former UFC champ to sign for Bellator

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The former UFC heavyweight champion is still serving out his USADA suspension, but will be under contract for Bellator when he returns.

UFC Brisbane Media Day Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Following his 2016 loss to Mark Hunt in Brisbane, Australia, Frank Mir’s relationship with the UFC took a serious turn for the worse. Mir – who entered the promotion as a 22-year-old, 2-0 pro-fighter in 2001 – failed an in-competition drug test surrounding his bout with Hunt, turning up positive for turinabol metabolites.

While Mir vehemently claimed his innocence, initially blaming potentially tainted kangaroo meat he had eaten, and later targeting the idea that substances from his time using TRT – which was legal in the UFC for several years – had remained in his system, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) upheld their ruling. Eventually, the former heavyweight champion was handed a two-year suspension from competition.

The experience, it seems, ended up souring his long history with the UFC and Mir asked for his release from the organization, receiving it in early July. Now MMA Fighting reports that he’s signed a new contract, this time with promotional rival Bellator MMA.

Mir is currently suspended from competition by USADA until April of 2018. And while he is no longer competing for the UFC, he is not expected to return to competition until the suspension is finished. It’s an interesting precedent for other fighters who may be looking to exit the promotion following their own problems with drug testing.

That only leaves the question of who Mir faces once his suspension is up. In an August interview with the MMA Hour he targeted bouts with Fedor Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar as future goals, now that he was no longer working with the UFC. And while Brock Lesnar looks to have other things in his sights, a fight with the ‘Last Emperor’ could certainly be on the table.