Well, clearly Josh Thomson’s departure to Bellator isn’t taking place without some drama, as UFC President Dana White insists that the promotion wasn’t interested in retaining the lightweight.
If you missed it, on Tuesday, MMA Fighting.com ran a story which said Thomson was close to signing a deal with Bellator, and that the UFC did not make an offer. Thomson’s last deal ran out following his decision loss to Tony Ferguson in July, which was the former Strikeforce champ’s third straight.
Not long after, Bellator announced that it had signed Thomson to a new deal. In the announcement, however, Thomson said “the truth of the matter is that they’ve been trying to re-sign me for my last two fights. 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.”
Well, MMA Fighting.com has ran a follow up story now, which includes an email that Thomson’s manager, Bob Cook, sent to the UFC’s Joe Silva. The email apparently included Bellator’s offer to Thomson, but Cook acknowledges that Silva had already told him that sending the proposal “wasn’t necessary”. Cook adds that he’s trying to do “everything by the book.”
The report also includes comments from White, who had this to say about the situation:
“We told them we weren’t interested,” White said. “We released Josh. We didn’t even want to match. He was free to deal with whoever he wanted to after his last fight and they knew we weren’t going to match.”
Now, it should be noted, source also confirmed in this follow up report that the UFC did have talks with Thomson’s camp, prior to his most recent loss. So it kind of depends on how you interpret what Thomson said, as far as whether any of this contradicts what he claimed. Chances are Bellator did make an offer that the UFC wasn’t interested in matching, since Thomson can likely be a more valuable asset for the Viacom owned promotion at this stage.
All this aside, it’s going to be interesting to see who Thomson faces in his Bellator debut. There’s no question that with his abilities and grit, “The Punk” could very well make a title run.