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Now with Bellator, Francis Carmont ready to tear 2014 out of the calendar

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The year 2014 was a bad one for Francis Carmont, who went 0-3 and ended up receiving his walking papers from the UFC. All of that wouldn’t have seemed so drastic if he hadn’t gone 6-0 in the UFC up until that point. Sharp turns are not uncommon in the fight business, but Carmont’s swift decline somehow lacked any kind of booming drama. It just sort of happened.

But what exactly was it that happened? Carmont himself is still in the process of figuring it out as he turns the page from 2014 into 2015, and from the UFC to his new home with Bellator.

"You know, sometimes all is good and sometimes all is bad," Carmont told MMA Fighting. "It is about your motivation. Maybe when I lost my fight against [Ronaldo] Souza, I lost my motivation. Or I was tired, to make two fights in one week, the first just to make the weight."

The French-born Carmont competed as a middleweight in the UFC, and saw his share of early success. He scored victories over Tom Lawlor, Lorenz Larkin and Costas Philippou -- the latter two of whom he nondescriptly decisioned before his skid. The most memorable portion of any of those fights was how audible he was in throwing kicks.

In his last fight against Thales Leites, the 33-year old Carmont -- who trains with Georges St-Pierre and Firas Zahabi at Tristar in Montreal -- got knocked out for the first time in his career. Leites, who for so long was known as a minefield on the ground with his jiu-jitsu, got the better of Carmont with his hands. And in that transaction might have been the catalyst for getting cut -- though, as Carmont points out, not the only thing.

"[I wasn’t] surprised because I know when you lose three fights, it tough," he said. "For me, the fight with Souza was close, or when I fought in Berlin [against C.B. Dollaway], I don’t feel like I lose the fight there. The only fight I really lost is against Thales Leites. You know, I get it this time… the UFC don’t fight for me. I don’t finish my last fights, the two fights before [the losses]. But maybe it’s a good thing, maybe now I will come back with the big motivation."

Now signed to Bellator, the past is academic. Carmont will debut at 205 pounds against the Brazilian Guilherme Viana at Bellator 135 on March 27 in Thackerville, Oklahoma -- the same state he lost to Leites in seven months ago. Yet fighting in a fresh promotion and in a weight class that he feels is better fit for his frame, the one they call "Limitless" is living up to his nickname. He’s expanding his boundaries.

"I just look to fight," he said. "[Viana]’s a big guy and it’s a lot of pressure. I know he’s a strong guy, but I’m ready for that. All the time I train a lot for my fight. This time is just another fight."

And a fresh start for a guy who all too quietly slipped from the prospective ranks.

"I’m so excited to fight for Bellator," he said. "It’s a big organization. A good show. I’m so happy to come. I’m so happy to fight on Friday night."

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