Vladimir Matyushenko - MMAWEEKLYBellator has been cautious when it comes to signing UFC cast-offs, passing on a number of notable competitors under the premise of building the company’s ranks up internally rather than through free agency. However, it appears an exception has been made in the case of 42-year old light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko.

CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed Bellator inked Matyushenko to a deal in a recent conversation with The MMA Report. According to Rebney, “The Janitor” will make his debut later this year, possibly as early as during the Summer Series.

“The guy is 26-7. If you look down the list of the losses, he has lost to big names. When he loses, he loses to guys with very big names and he thinks he still has gas in the tank,” explained Rebney of the signing. “He feels that literally a couple of very good years left in front of him right now to compete at a very high level.”

“Bellator is one of the biggest promotions in the world, and to be associated with them is an honor,” added Matyushenko in an official statement on his new professional home. “I am optimistic and excited to work with Bellator. The amount of respect and honor I felt from Bjorn and the entire Bellator team was tremendous, and getting into the Bellator cage and cementing my legacy as a Bellator World Champion is the only thing on my mind.”

Matyushenko was released by the UFC after dropping back-to-back bouts to Alexander Gustafsson and Ryan Bader. Prior to the stumbles he’d gone 13-2 in his previous fifteen fights including success against Jason Lambert, Igor Pokrajac, and Tim Boetsch.