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Bellator picks up Slim Trabelsi after UFC release, manager dispute

Slim Trabelsi is now a Bellator MMA fighter after a dispute between managers that led to his UFC release.

Bellator officials confirmed to MMA Fighting Trabelsi’s move to the Paramount-owned promotion after an initial report from TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter. According to a press release from Dominance MMA, the contract is a “six-figure,” multi-fight, multi-year deal. His Bellator debut remains unbooked.

The management firm found itself at the center of a dispute involving Trabelsi and Fernand Lopez, the heavyweight’s coach and promoter. Lopez claimed Trabelsi was still under contract and bound to the promotion he co-chairs, ARES FC. Dominance owner Ali Abdelaziz claimed he didn’t know Trabelsi was under contract and accused Lopez of holding the fighter in “slavery.”

Lopez did not immediately respond to a request for comment from MMA Fighting. But Lopez told MMA reporter Cole Shelton that he planned to contest the new deal.

A Bellator official declined to comment on Lopez’s statement. The MMA Factory owner previously offered to assign Trabelsi’s contract to Abdelaziz for 90,000 Euros but balked when the dispute spilled out into public.

Trabelsi told MMA Fighting that Abdelaziz is his manager and he wished to move on from Lopez, whom he accused of holding back his career.

“I don’t need nothing for [Lopez],” he said. “I don’t want any problem with him, but let me go.”

Lopez countered that Trabelsi, who hails from Tunisia but moved to Paris without a visa, said he’d invested money into the fighter that he expected to be recouped. He blasted Abdelaziz for interfering with his client by walking away from a valid contract.

“This is not the way to deal with people,” he said. “If you’re under a management contract, stick to your manager, and when it’s over, you can move. Don’t do that. That’s wrong to do that.”

Trabelsi is undefeated as a heavyweight pro, earning a 4-0 record on the international circuit including back-to-back ARES wins. He was set to face Parker Porter at UFC 280 before the management dispute led to his release.

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