Former UFC veteran Stephan Bonnar has signed a multifight contract with Bellator MMA, officials announced Wednesday.
A promotional debut date and location has not been set, although Bonnar (15-8) hinted his first Bellator opponent would be former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.
"I want everyone to know I'm coming out of retirement because it's time to free the MMA world of the virus that's known as Tito Ortiz," Bonnar said in a released statement. "We've been suffering through his boring fights for too many years and it's about time that someone beats it out of him once and for all."
Bonnar, 37, announced his retirement from mixed martial arts in October 2012, shortly after he suffered a first-round TKO loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro. It was later revealed Bonnar tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone on the night of the fight.
The UFC suspended Bonnar for one year for the failed test. It marked the second failed drug test of his career. In 2006, he was suspended nine months after testing positive for boldenone, another steroid.
A member of the inaugural season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series in 2005, Bonnar fought 15 times in the UFC, compiling an 8-7 record. He was considered one of the more popular fighters on the roster but never fought for a UFC title. He is best known for a back-and-forth, three-round fight against Forrest Griffin at "The Ultimate Fighter Finale" in April 2005 in Las Vegas.
Bonnar lost via unanimous decision. UFC president Dana White still credits the bout for saving the company.
"Stephan is a guy that has been a huge part of this sport and we are excited to have him part of the roster," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement. "He was one half of probably the greatest and one of the most important fight in MMA history, and it happened on Spike (TV).
"When you look at our light heavyweight division with names like (Quinton Jackson), Tito, (Muhammed Lawal), Emanuel Newton and others, there are a lot of fights Stephan can be involved in. Big fights against big names. After talking to Stephan, I know that's what he wants and we want to provide that to our fans."