Veteran light heavyweight and former UFC fighter Mike Van Arsdale (8-5) will return from a two-year layoff and make his comeback with the upstart American Fight League.
MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
) today confirmed the signing with AFL officials, who said Van Arsdale will be part of the organization's pay-per-view debut, which takes place sometime in November.
Van Arsdale could be an opponent for another 205-pounder the AFL hopes to land: former UFC champion and current free agent Tito Ortiz.
Van Arsdale, a stand-out high school and collegiate wrestler at Iowa State University, began his career with an 8-1 record and earned a spot on the UFC's roster. However, after suffering four consecutive losses (to notables such as Randy Couture, Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Matt Lindland), Van Arsdale walked away from competition.
He hasn't competed since April 2006 and has been healing from an array of injuries.
"This is huge for us," said AFL CEO BJ Santiago, who recently signed top female fighter Tara LaRosa, former WWE star Bobby Lashley and a host of UFC veterans. "Van is a scary, freak-of-nature-type athlete who has a terrific wrestling and MMA pedigree. He is a class-A fighter with unbelievable potential. ... This is big for us and I think MMA in the long run."
The AFL is one of many organizations currently vying for the services of Ortiz, who recently became a free agent after fulfilling the terms of his UFC contract. As MMAjunkie.com reported earlier this week, despite claims he had agreed to a record-breaking contract with Affliction, Ortiz is again negotiating with all the sport's top players.
Not surprisingly AFL Director of Public Relations Sean McClure has an opponent in mind for Van Arsdale.
"Tito Ortiz," McClure stated. "Our operations director and one of the owners Jon Hatton has wanted to see that fight for years. Mike's wrestling is sick, and Tito is a really tough guy. It would be a good fight for Mike."
He also didn't rule out a move to middleweight for Van Arsdale.
"I would also love to see Mike fight a guy like Trevor Prangley or maybe even drop down to 185 to fight, say, a Renzo Gracie or someone like that," McClure said. "I know Mike could make 185 pounds if he wanted to. It would be up to him, and if he did want to do it, we would support it."
AFL officials said the date of their PPV debut will be announced soon. In addition to Van Arsdale, LaRosa and Lashley are also booked for the event. Mike Van Arsdale plans comeback, signs with American Fight League | MMAjunkie.com