While he’s currently preparing for his bout against James McSweeney at BAMMA 5 next week, former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez has now signed a new deal to become a part of Bellator Fighting Championships.
Rodriguez broke the news during a recorded interview for MMAWeekly Radio on Friday.
“To be honest with you, I signed the Bellator contract and just waiting to get permission from MTV. Everyone wants me to do something, but they’re just concerned with my past, if I’m going to be hard to work with. It’s a great opportunity for Bellator, I would love to fight in that competition, it’s going to be great exposure, I just think Bellator’s going to blow up on the scene,” Rodriguez said.
Currently training in England with the Wolfslair, Rodriguez has been there for just over a month working with the team and is in the closing stages for his fight against McSweeney next week in BAMMA.
After that fight is complete, Rodriguez plans to talk to Bellator to discuss his role with the promotion. At this time, Rodriguez has not been offered a slot in the upcoming light heavyweight tournament, but the promotion hasn’t filled all the available openings so he could end up in the field of 8.
“Right now I’m just focused on BAMMA, the opportunity, I put it out there I signed the contract with Bjorn (Rebney) and Bellator, and I’m just waiting for them,” Rodriguez stated.
Since dropping down to light heavyweight, Rodriguez has fueled a career rejuvenation and he hopes to continue that with the McSweeney fight and then in Bellator. If everything goes his way, Rodriguez hopes to walk away from the sport as a champion.
“This is it,” stated Rodriguez. “This is my opportunity to go out there and end my career as a champion, and I would love the opportunity to fight in that 205-pound tournament.”
First things first, however, is the 215-pound catchweight fight against James McSweeney at BAMMA 5 next week. More information on Rodriguez’s Bellator debut should come in the following weeks.
(UPDATE on Feb. 19, 2011, at 10:15 a.m PT – Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told MMAjunkie.com he’s impressed by Rodriguez’s recent career resurgence, but hasn’t yet signed the fighter to the organization.)