Former Bellator MMA Heavyweight Champion Vitaly Minakov is heading back to the promotion he once dominated, as ESPN is reporting that the fighter has signed a new deal with the organization.
Minakov was last seen in the promotion at Bellator 115, where he defeated UFC veteran Cheick Kongo to retain the heavyweight title. Minakov would leave the promotion a short time later due to contract disputes and would compete for Fight Night Global in Russia. The Russian heavyweight would defeat several top fighters while under the FNG banner, including Josh Copeland, DJ Linderman, Antonio Silva and Tony Johnson. Bellator would eventually strip Minakov of the heavyweight title, which is finally getting a new owner with the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
Bellator MMA President Scott Coker issued the following statement about Minakov returning to the organization:
“I am excited to have Vitaly Minakov back in Bellator’s heavyweight division. Minakov was dominant when he stepped into the cage previously for Bellator and has continued his undefeated run competing in Russia. A lot of new names have come into the fold at heavyweight since he last competed for Bellator, so I look forward to some exciting new match-ups for him by the end of the year.”
MMA Junkie is also reporting that Minakov is expected to compete once in the promotion this year before fighting the winner of the ongoing Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix for the title in 2019.