James Haskell will make his mixed martial arts debut next year after signing with Bellator.
The former England rugby international will fight at heavyweight having worked as an MMA pundit in recent years.
His move into the sport will be officially announced at a press conference next week.
Haskell made his England debut in 2007 and went on to win 77 caps and appeared at two World Cups, in 2011 and 2015.
The flanker also helped his country win their first Six Nations Grand Slam for 13 years in 2016 before they defended their title 12 months later.
He was included in the Lions’ squad in 2017 but did not appear during the tour.
The 34-year-old retired earlier this year following a career which began at Wasps where he won the English Premiership and European Heineken Cup in 2007 and 2008.
He left for Stade Francais in 2009 before spells with the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan and the Highlanders in New Zealand.
A second spell with Wasps was followed by a final season with Northampton Saints.
Upon retiring, he said: “I have loved every minute of my career in rugby and feel very privileged to have played with and against some exceptional players.
“This next chapter was supposed to go a very different way, however that is the nature of professional sport. I’ve never spent so much time injured in my entire career, but I’m doing everything I can to help the squad here until my contract ends.
“Retiring is obviously a really difficult decision for me to make; professional rugby has been the centre of my life for such a long time now and while it’s weird to imagine living without it, I look to the future with huge excitement.”
Standing at 6ft 4in and weighing as much as 260lb, Haskell will compete in the same division which as current champion Ryan Bader, challenger Cheik Kongo, MMA veteran Josh Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko.
Bellator is considered the second biggest MMA promotion in the world behind the UFC and is also home to former Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers.
The promotion was last in London in June when Gegard Mousasi lost his middleweight world title to Rafael Lovato Jnr.
This content was originally published here.