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Vladimir Matyushenko Injury Opens Door for Roger Hollett's Return to UFC 152

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Roger Hollett will fight Matt Hamill at UFC 152 after all.

Three weeks after Hollett was removed from the fight due to contractual issues with Bellator and replaced with veteran Vladimir Matyushenko, the Canadian light heavyweight is back in after Matyushenko suffered a torn achilles tendon. The UFC Canada Twitter feed broke the news on Tuesday.

According to Hollett's manager Stan Durst, Bellator released Hollett earlier this year after he won one fight in their organization last November. However, after the UFC announced that Hollett had verbally agreed to make his UFC debut against Hamill on Sept. 22, Bellator claimed it had the right to match the UFC's contract offer and Hollett would be in breach of contract if he took the fight.

According to UFC officials, Hollett and his management team, who did not believe Bellator had the right to match other offers after the release, were given time to sort out the situation, but once it dragged, the promotion decided against officially signing Hollett and booked Matyushenko vs. Hamill.

The day after Matyushenko vs. Hamill was announced for UFC 152, a Bellator lawyer informed Durst that they were not going to match the UFC's offer to Hollett and he was free to sign with them. Unfortunately for Hollett, it was too late, and it appeared as though his chance of fighting in the UFC, at least for now, had passed him by.

Matyushenko's injury, though, opened the door for "The Hulk" to once again get a shot in the UFC versus Hamill since Bellator had already agreed to not match the UFC's offer.

When asked for a comment on the situation, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney offered this statement:

“In every one of our promotional agreements, we have what are called 'matching rights,' which means when we sign a fighter to a long-term agreement, when that agreement ends, we have the right to 'match' any offer that fighter might get from another promotion. This is no different from what the UFC and other promotions have in their promotional agreements. In Roger’s case we decided not to match and to allow him to fight elsewhere."

This situation mirrors Tyson Nam's, who knocked out Bellator's bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas last month at Shooto Brazil 33 after getting released from his Bellator contract earlier in the year. Nam claimed to receive multiple new contract offers from other promotions after the knockout, however, Bellator reserved the right to match the offers.

"In Tyson’s situation, we have that same 'right to match,'" Rebney stated, "and if or when we receive an promotional agreement from another promoter, we will then determine if we are going to match that agreement or not.”

According to UFC officials, the organization has never exercised the right to match an offer from another promotion after releasing a fighter from a contract.

Hollett (13-3), a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, has won his last five in a row. This will mark Hamill's (10-4) first fight since retiring after his UFC 133 loss to Alexander Gustafsson in Aug. 2011.

UFC 152, headlined by Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort for the UFC light heavyweight title, takes place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Hamill vs. Hollett fight will air on the pay-per-view portion of the card.