UFC released Bonnar to sign with Bellator

Stephan Bonnar's signing with Bellator MMA could open the door for a showdown against Tito Ortiz. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO -- UFC president Dana White confirmed on Friday that he granted the release of Stephan Bonnar so the light heavyweight could sign with Bellator MMA.

On Wednesday, Bellator announced Bonnar (15-8) had signed a multifight deal and hinted his first opponent could be former UFC champion Tito Ortiz.

Bonnar has not fought since he suffered a first-round TKO loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 153 in October 2012. After the fight, Bonnar tested positive for drostanolone, an anabolic steroid. He was suspended by the UFC for one year.

Although he announced his retirement shortly after the loss, Bonnar had remained under UFC contract until now. White cut him loose so he could sign with Bellator.

"I wish him the best," White said. "What he told me is that he wants to beat the s--- out of Tito, and I'm always down for that. So, I released him."

White gave the comment tongue in cheek. The UFC executive has had a long, rocky history with Ortiz (17-11-1), whom he once managed.

Bonnar was inducted into the UFC's Hall of Fame last year, along with Forrest Griffin. He is best known for his 2005 back-and-forth fight against Griffin in The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale.

Bellator officials have not made an official announcement on a fight between Bonnar and Ortiz.