Bellator Books Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen, ONE Signs Vitor Belfort, Cro Cop Retires

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Four MMA legends are back in the news again, and you can read what they’re up to below.

Bellator Books Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen

Bellator continues to book legends fights and this time the promotion has signed a light heavyweight contest between Lyoto Machida and Chael Sonnen. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani confirmed the booking, though Bellator has not announced a date or location for the contest as of yet. Notably, the contest will take place at 205lbs after Machida last competed at middleweight and Sonnen at heavyweight.

Machida (25-8) defeated Rafael Carvalho via split decision in his Bellator debut and beat both Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort before that in the Octagon in what was a comeback 2018 for “The Dragon.” Though he’s 40-years-old now, Machida showed last year that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Many thought he was next in line for a rematch against Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi, but instead he’ll move back up to light heavyweight for this big fight against Sonnen.

Sonnen (31-16-1) is 2-2 in Bellator and is coming off of a TKO loss to Fedor Emelianenko in the semifinals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. Prior to that, Sonnen had defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the tournament quarterfinals and Wanderlei Silva before that. Though he’s 41 now and no longer an elite fighter, Sonnen continues to land big-name matchups due to his entertaining fights and colorful personality.

As far as the betting line goes, look for Machida to be a big favorite in this one. His solid takedown defense skills combined with vicious knockout power against a chinny fighter like Sonnen makes this a very favorable matchup on paper.

ONE Championship Inks Vitor Belfort

After last year’s signings of Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson and Sage Northcutt, it appears that ONE Championship is not done signing former UFC fighters just yet.  The Singapore-based MMA promotion announced over the weekend it has signed former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort to a new, multi-fight contract. Belfort was released from the UFC after announcing his retirement following a KO loss to Machida in May 2018, but ONE gave him an offer he can’t refuse, and he’ll end his short-lived retirement when he fights for ONE later this year, likely in Brazil as the promotion looks to expand in South America.

ONE has not announced who Belfort’s first opponent will be, but there are plenty of options for him. Most likely Belfort will be ticketed to a heavyweight fight as he won’t have to cut weight in that case. ONE could easily give Belfort a title fight against their heavyweight champion Brandon Vera, but they may want to give him an easier fight against a journeyman such as James McSweeney. Roger Gracie is the promotion’s light heavyweight/cruiserweight champion, but he hasn’t fought in two years. Perhaps ONE could book that fight in Brazil. As well, Belfort said he would be interested in boxing and kickboxing fights. I personally think the 41-year-old Belfort should have stayed retired, but at least he’ll make some good money under the ONE banner.

Cro Cop Retires

Legendary heavyweight Mirko Cro Cop has retired, just weeks after a decision win over Roy Nelson in Bellator. According to reports, Cro Cop suffered a stroke and has to retire. Cro Cop (38-11-2, 1 NC) will retire at age 44 as one of the greatest heavyweights to ever compete in the sport. He will retire on a 10-fight win streak, one that saw him fight and compete all over the world for the best promotions in MMA. We at MMAOB wish Cro Cop the very best of luck in retirement.

Written by Adam Martin.

Updated Fighter Grades: Post-UFC 235

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