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Thiago Silva signs with WSOF, enters four-man tournament for light heavyweight title

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Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Thiago Silva is back.

The former UFC light-heavyweight contender has signed an exclusive multi-fight contract with World Series of Fighting, according to WSOF president Ray Sefo. Silva will be a part of a four-man light-heavyweight tournament to crown the promotion's inaugural 205-pound champion. Sefo said Silva will fight Ronny Markes in the semi-finals of the tournament, while the recently unretired Matt Hamill will face a yet-to-be announced fighter in the other semi-final. The winner of the tournament will win the belt.

Both tournament fights will take place on March 28 in a card headlined by Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino for the WSOF lightweight title. The venue for the event, which will air live on NBCSN, has yet to be finalized.

Silva was released from the UFC in February following an armed standoff with members of the Broward County police force at his residence in Florida. According to a police report, his ex-wife, Thaysa Kamiji, claimed that Silva had previously held a revolver inside her mouth, then later threatened to shoot up her partner and jiu-jitsu instructor Pablo Popovitch's school before a standoff with a SWAT team ended with a taser being deployed on Silva "for officer safety reasons."

Silva faced charges of aggravated assault and battery, sending threatening texts, and resisting arrest without violence as a result of the incident, however, the case was ultimately thrown out because the Broward County State Attorney's Office said, "the victim (Kamiji) was uncooperative, and investigators determined that she has likely moved out of the country."

A day after the charges were dropped in September, Silva was welcomed back to the UFC. However, he was released again two weeks later after Kamiji posted a series of controversial videos on YouTube.

"[WSOF executive vice president] Ali [Abdel-Aziz] and I talked about it," Sefo said. "We researched his situation, and the charges were dropped. He wasn't convicted. In my opinion, you're innocent until proven guilty. The guy is a great fighter so we want to give him an opportunity."

"I've talked to a lot of guys in his camp," Abdel-Aziz added. "Everyone talks about his character. "I'm lucky enough to know a little more about the situation with his ex-wife, and I feel comfortable with this. If the judge didn't convict him, why should we convict him? He's of the top light heavyweights in the world. We can give him an opportunity and a platform to showcase his skills."

Silva (16-3, 2 NC) hasn't fought since his Oct. 2013 win over Hamill, which is also Hamill's (11-2) last fight. In July, Hamill announced his retirement from MMA due to a "nagging injury," however, Sefo says the former UFC fighter is ready to resume his fighting career.

Markes (15-3), another former UFC fighter, is 1-0 in WSOF.

The promotion expects the tournament final to take place later this summer.