UFC veteran John Alessio has signed with Bellator.
Alessio and promotion officials announced the news on Friday night. Alessio’s exact debut date is not known, but he is expected to make his promotional foray this fall in Season 9.
A 15-year mixed martial arts veteran, Alessio contended for the UFC welterweight title back in 2000, submitting to a second-round Pat Miletich armbar. Nearly seven years later, “The Natural” challenged Carlos Condit for the WEC belt but once again came up short, this time tapping out to a rear-naked choke.
Alessio rejoined the UFC last year while riding a three-fight win streak but was released by the organization following back-to-back decision losses to Mark Bocek and Shane Roller. Most recently, the 33-year-old fought 15-fight pro Dave Mazany to a no-contest this past November, with the bout coming to a halt in the first round after Alessio was poked in the eye.
Bellator will debut its third Summer Series on June 19 with Bellator 96, which takes place at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., and will see Michael Chandler defend his lightweight title against Season 7 winner Dave Jansen. The event will also signal the start of two four-man tournaments, highlighted by the return of former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Muhammed Lawal, as “King Mo” takes on UFC vet Seth Petruzelli during the Spike TV-broadcast main draw.