The 30-year-old credits a recent health scare and the words of former dual weight champion Daniel Cormier in helping him decide to jump ship. Anderson was granted release from his UFC contract despite the fact he had two fights remaining. It came as a surprise to many as ‘Overtime’ had just headlined a UFC card in February – a knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz – and was ranked #4 in the 205lb division.
Speaking to ESPN Anderson revealed he had collapsed in a friend’s driveway and subsequently underwent multiple procedures to correct a heart condition that threatened his fight career.
“I literally came out of the last procedure, rolled into my waiting room and turned my phone on and had a contract from the UFC for a fight,” Anderson said. “I agreed to the fight, but then [the opponent] got hurt and they were doing the same thing they did in the past, offering me fights that didn’t make sense for the money I was making.
“I’m No. 4 in the world, and I’m making money like it was my fourth fight in the UFC.”
After going through such a life changing ordeal Anderson seems to be approaching his fight career with a different mindset. He was previously more motivated by being the best than making money but says he must now put his family first.
“I used to say I don’t care about the money, that I’m fighting to be the best and I don’t need the money,” Anderson said. “After hanging out with [Cormier], he broke something to me. He said, ‘You know how you say you don’t fight for money? When was the last time you got in a street fight? You don’t fight for free. You fight to pay for your family.’
“I said, ‘Let’s see if we can get a little more money for the fight.’ And the UFC wouldn’t budge. I asked for my release, and they said, ‘All right, we’ll release him,’ in 20 seconds. I’ve got no anger toward the UFC, but this is how I know my worth to them.”
Anderson is very happy to have signed a lucrative deal with Bellator and says he is willing to fight whoever they put in front of him because the money he is earning is so good.
“If it’s the Bader-Nemkov winner, I’m with that. If it’s Phil Davis-Lyoto Machida, I’m with it,” Anderson said. “I’m at the point now, they’re paying me to fight. This kind of money, it’s hard to say no to whoever they offer, whereas before, it was a calculated risk. The risk they wanted me to take wasn’t worth what was in my contract. Now this is what they’re paying me for, to go out and fight.”
Do you think Corey Anderson has made the right move?