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Roy Nelson signs with Bellator

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“Big Country” is off to Bellator.

Roy Nelson (22-14) has signed an exclusive, multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA, MMA Fighting has confirmed with multiple sources. The promotion is expected to officially announce the signing in the coming days.

Nelson’s UFC contract expired following his unanimous decision loss to Alexander Volkov in April. While his Bellator debut has yet to be finalized, the early plan is for him to fight in the fall.

The 13-year veteran debuted with the UFC in 2009 after winning the tenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” He leaves the promotion with a 9-10 record inside the Octagon. His most notable wins came against Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop, Matt Mitrione, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antonio Silva, and of course, his “TUF” exhibition win over Kimbo Slice, which remains the most-watched fight in the history of the reality series.

Nelson, 40, butted heads with UFC president Dana White from the beginning of his UFC run but remained a fan favorite throughout and was always featured in big fights.

He becomes the latest familiar UFC face to sign with Bellator, joining the likes of Phil Davis, Matt Mitrione, Benson Henderson, and Rory MacDonald, among others, who recently made the jump.