By the end of 2019 it seemed like Corey Anderson was in spitting distance of a UFC title shot. ‘Overtime’ (née ‘Beastin’ 25/8’) had won four fights in a row in the notoriously shallow light heavyweight division. A feat great enough to get Thiago Santos a title shot. Anthony Johnson, Anthony Smith, and Volkan Oezdemir all only needed three wins for theirs.
Instead, Anderson ended up fighting fellow contender, and former KSW champ, Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz ended the fight with a clean right hand just three minutes and eight seconds into the first round, ending Anderson’s winning streak—and apparently his aspirations for UFC gold as well.
Still in the midst of his UFC contract, Anderson had been on the sidelines since that February defeat. However, on August 7th, ESPN reported that the Mark Henry-trained fighter had negotiated his release from the promotion and signed a new deal with Viacom-owned rival, Bellator.
Scott Coker quickly confirmed the news, via his Twitter account, welcoming the former UFC fighter to his new promotional home.
Anderson’s departure from the UFC isn’t necessarily the most surprising news. He made comments back in November of 2019 that if his path to the UFC title wasn’t clear, then he’d rather get released from his contract and look to fight somewhere else. With the setback of his latest loss, it seems Anderson felt it was time to follow through on that plan.
“Release me,” Anderson told reporters following his KO win over Johnny Walker at UFC 244. “You don’t want to give me what I’ve earned, let me go. I’m hot. I’ll go somewhere where somebody’s going to respect me. I think a lot of the people feel like you need the UFC. I don’t need the UFC.”
Bellator has yet to officially announce a date for Anderson’s debut, or a potential opponent. Fellow former top-ranked UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader claimed Bellator’s light heavyweight title in his promotional debut back in 2017, with a victory over Phil Davis. He’s since gone on to grab Bellator’s heavyweight belt as well. Bader is currently set to take on Vadim Nemkov in the second defense of his light heavyweight crown at Bellator 244 on August 21st. Could just be that Cory Anderson will be waiting for the winner.