It came as quite a surprise yesterday when news came out that former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida had signed a contract with Bellator MMA. It turns out that his UFC contract was up and he was free to take offers, so he did. But today, the entire process came to light - and it was revealed that the UFC did actually match Bellator’s offer, but it was too late by then.
Bellator CEO Scott Coker and Machida spoke to the media at a press conference today about the deal (via MMA Junkie).
Coker explained that Machida’s contract was up, along with his exclusive negotiation period with the UFC, and he was contacted by Machida’s reps. The UFC still had matching rights at that time, and Bellator gave Machida an offer that, in Lyoto’s own words, he “couldn’t refuse”.
For some reason the UFC didn’t offer to match in the allotted time, so Machida signed with Bellator. Later on the UFC tried to offer the same deal, but Machida was already set to move on.
“When I came back to the UFC, it was too late because I gave my word to Mr. Coker, and I’m a man of my word.”
“I’m at home here,” said Machida. “I’m very happy, and I can’t wait to step in the cage and fight again.”
Machida (24-8) competed 24 times in the Octagon, picking up 16 wins and eight finishes in the process.