ONE Championship has added another former world champion to the roster.
“The Phenom” Vitor Belfort signed a contract to fight for the Singapore-based promotion Thursday, sources confirmed with MMA Fighting. He is expected to be introduced at a ONE media day in Las Vegas. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to report the news.
The legendary former UFC light heavyweight champion and UFC 12 tournament winner is the latest in a splashy string of roster signings, which have included free-agent deals with former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and up-and-coming star Sage Northcutt; and a trade which brought former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson into the fold. ONE also signed retired former UFC and Strikeforce bantamweight titleholder Miesha Tate in a vice-president role.
Belfort (26-14, 1 NC), who turns 42 years old on April 1, made his pro debut in 1996. He had three separate runs in the UFC, and has also appeared everywhere from PRIDE to Strikeforce to Affliction MMA. He defeated Randy Couture for the UFC light heavyweight belt via first-round TKO due to a fluke eyelid injury at UFC 46, then lost the title back to Couture in a rematch at UFC 49.
Belfort’s final UFC run went from 2009 through last year. He was 2-3 with a no-contest in his last six fights, and he announced his retirement following a KO loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 224. But given Belfort had frequently talked about continuing fighting in some form after his UFC contract ended, few were surprised when Belfort announced in December that his retirement was ending.