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Sources: Bellator MMA signs formerly retired Wanderlei Silva

Brazilian mixed martial arts legend Wanderlei Silva has signed a multifight deal with Bellator MMA.

Sources close to the promotion confirmed the signing to ESPN.com on Wednesday. Silva, 39, announced his retirement in September 2014 but was always a likely candidate for a comeback.

Silva (35-12-1) retired after receiving a lifetime ban in the state of Nevada for fleeing a random drug test. He later conceded that he fled because he was taking diuretics at the time, which are considered a banned substance.

After a Nevada judge overturned the lifetime ban in May, the Nevada State Athletic Commission re-sentenced Silva to a three-year suspension at a disciplinary hearing. Under that new ruling, Silva is eligible to reapply for a license in May 2017.

Bellator officials have not commented on the specifics of Silva's debut. Technically he could fight outside of Nevada before his suspension ends, but doing so could lead to future complications in acquiring a license.

Silva had remained under UFC contract until January. The promotion agreed to release him after settling a defamation suit in Nevada court, which was related to Silva's public assertions last summer that the UFC had taken part in fight fixing. Silva has since retracted those accusations.

A resident of Las Vegas, Silva hasn't fought since he recorded his 25th knockout, against Brian Stann at a UFC event in March 2013. He could fight in Bellator as a middleweight or light heavyweight.