• Gilbert Melendez agrees on multi-year deal structure with Bellator

  • In a strange turn of events lightweight MMA fighter Gilbert Melendez has agreed on a multi-fight, multi-year deal structure with Bellator. Gilbert’s contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship recently ended, meaning the 31-year-old is now legally able to explore the free market.

    Melendez, who currently has an MMA record of 22-3, is the former Strikeforce lightweight champion and is currently ranked no. 2 in the division. Widely considered to be one of the top fighters in the world today, Melendez would be a welcome addition to any promotions roster.

    Although Bellator have made Gilbert an offer the UFC still holds matching rights on Melendez and can make a play to keep the fighter on their books.

    Here is what Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney had to say:

    “The moment Gil was legally able to explore the free agent market, Gil’s management team reached out to me and we began figuring out how to bring Gil to Bellator,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “It’s no secret that I’ve been a big “El Nino” fan for many years. Gil was one of the first fighters I tried to sign when I launched Bellator back in 2008, and he’s grown and developed into one of the best and most exciting lightweights on earth.  Gil has a vision for what he wants to accomplish both inside and outside the cage and we can help make his vision a reality.  We are in the business of developing and showcasing the greatest fighters on earth. That’s what we intend to do here with Gil and it’s what we’ll continue to do in the future.”

    Melendez holds victories over Josh Thomson, Shinya Aoki, Jorge Masvidal and most recently Diego Sanchez. The bout with Sanchez was one of the best matchups in 2013, it was a slugfest that saw both men swing for the fences, displaying a tremendous amount of heart and resiliency.

    We will have to wait and see how this whole thing unfolds. It’s down to the UFC to make the next move, I am definitely interested to see what happens. If Melendez were to leave the UFC would it inspire other fighters, who would have never considered leaving the UFC previously, to explore their options?

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    Jay Cee – @JayCeeMMA

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