You can now officially add Josh Thomson (pictured) to the growing list of former UFC fighters dissing the planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion on the way out. On Tuesday, Thomson decided to leave the UFC and ink a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA.
There were reports that the UFC opted to let Thomson walk after his contract expired after July’s decision defeat to Tony Ferguson, but Thomson wanted to set the record straight regarding who called the shots on his employment status.
“The Punk” insists he’s the one who decided to part ways, and it was primarily because he can make more money with Bellator. The Viacom-owned company does not forbid its athletes from scoring fight-week endorsements like the UFC does due to their new sponsorship deal with Reebok.
“I’m over here reading this UFC reporter saying that they’ve declined to re-sign me when the truth of the matter is that they’ve been trying to re-sign me for my last two fights,’ Thomson expressed in Bellator’s press release. “I declined and instead chose to fight out my contract and test the free agency market with Bellator. At that point, Bellator made me an offer that the UFC was unable to match given their relationships with FOX and Reebok.
“It’s a done deal, I’m back working with Coker, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back to an organization that is trending upwards with fighter-friendly contracts. Any intelligent fighter is going to go where the money is, and for me the money was at Bellator.”
Thomson rejoined the UFC after Zuffa, LLC, the UFC’s parent company, acquired Strikeforce in 2012. He went just 1-4 in the big leagues, though two of those losses were via controversial split decision. Based on Reebok’s seniority-based tiered pay structure, Thomson made just $2,500 in his last outing from the apparel company.
Even though Thomson competed for the UFC back in 2004, the Reebok clock started over since he left the promotion and came back.
Bellator is not tied down to any apparel company, therefore its athletes are allowed to secure their own sponsors during fight week and land a second revenue stream that oftentimes can equate to more than their fight purses.
At 36 years of age, Thomson may be at the tail-end of his career, but he is blazing a trail that future UFC free agents may follow due to Reebok’s financial restrictions.
No word when Thomson will make his Bellator debut.