Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida has finally parted ways with the UFC after over 10 years of hard-working service.

In a surprise move, “The Dragon” announced he had signed with rival promotion Bellator on Friday to the confusion of MMA fans. Machida is coming off of a career-reviving knockout over fellow Brazilian MMA legend Vitor Belfort at UFC 224, and seemed poised to re-sign with the UFC after fighting out his most recent contract.

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Machida took to social media after the news broke to provide fight fans with some explanation for the move:

“Hello everyone, I’m here to announce a great change in my career. My contract with UFC has finished, and I’m going to a new house: Bellator, which is a great MMA event that has been growing a lot here in the United States. I’m very grateful for everything that happened with me in the UFC.

“I’m very happy with everything I lived. I believe that everything in our lives is made of periods. All that comes is great and all that goes is also great. We have to be open to new changes, new challenges. This is how I think. My best regards to all of you, and I wish you keep on supporting me, because everytime I fight and everytime I practice, I do my best for all of you.”

“The Dragon” captured UFC gold after knocking out former light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans back at UFC 98 and eventually moved down to middleweight where he fell short in his pursuit of the title.

Now at 40 years old, Machida joins a promotion where he holds a knockout victory over their light heavyweight champion and a dominant decision victory over the middleweight champ.

Matt McNulty is a writer & reporter for LowKick MMA. He has previously worked as a staff writer for, a crime and MMA reporter for the New York Post, and also as a general assignment reporter for the New York Daily News. McNulty has professionally covered MMA since 2013.