All-time Bellator fights leader David Rickels leaves to sign with BKFC

After almost nine years with Bellator, David Rickels has a new home.

Bellator’s all-time leader in fights with 23, Rickels (21-6) recently became a free agent. After exploring the market, he has signed with BKFC according to an Instagram post from his management group, KO Reps, on Wednesday.

According to the post, Rickels will headline BKFC 11 on March 14 in his backyard of Wichita, Kan. No opponent as been named for Rickels yet.

In a statement to MMA Junkie, Rickels’ manager, Oren Hodak, confirmed the fighter’s departure from Bellator. Additionally, Hodak indicated Rickels’ MMA days are not over.

“Dave is excited to headline for BK on their debut in Wichita. It is an opportunity that we just could not pass up. MMA fights are still on the radar for ‘Caveman’ as we explore the world of free agency. When you have an athlete that is truly an entertainer inside and out of the cage, opportunities will always be there. We still have a great relationship with Bellator and will continue conversations with them as well. But for now his next epic walkout will be for BK.”

Rickels made his promotional debut at Bellator 40 in April 2011. He competed against a who’s-who of lightweights and welterweights. At Bellator 97 in July 2013, Rickels unsuccessfully contended for the Bellator lightweight title against Michael Chandler. Other opponents during his Bellator tenure included Patricky Freire, Michael Page and Melvin Guillard.

Nico Hernandez, an Olympic gold medalist in boxing, also is expected to make his BKFC debut on the March 14 card.