LAS VEGAS — The UFC has signed veteran lightweight Will Brooks to a multi-fight contract after Bellator released its reigning champion last month.

Brooks will make his UFC debut July 8 in Las Vegas against Ross Pearson, the mixed martial arts promotion announced Wednesday.

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Brooks (17-1) won the Bellator lightweight title in 2014 and defended the belt twice in 2015, but Bellator took the unusual step of stripping his title and making him a free agent in May after Brooks’ repeated public criticism of the promotion.

Brooks has won eight consecutive fights. He will enter the UFC’s crowded 155-pound division with a bout against the veteran Pearson (19-10) on the undercard of The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.