Gilbert Melendez fans there is a big update on his fighting future.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney issued the following statement:
“It’s my understanding that the UFC matched the deal we agreed to with Gilbert,” Rebney said. “While I haven’t yet spoken to Gilbert’s management team, I have heard from various sources that the UFC matched our offer. We have a stacked lightweight roster and Gil would have made a great addition to it, yet I’m glad he was able to go out, explore the free agent market and get paid what he deserves. That’s what the free market system is all about. I’m happy for Gil, that through this process he was able to ensure long term financial security for himself and his family. That’s what the fighters that put it all on the line inside the cage deserve.
“This process has shown that in MMA, there are two legitimate options for fighters. And, as I said last week, with two large scale options for fighters in MMA, fighters negotiating power is dramatically improved. Our actions throughout this process accomplished that for Gilbert right now, and in the future it will do the same for countless additional fighters. Some will end up in Bellator and some will end up in the UFC. But, either way, the sport benefits. Now our focus turns to the task at hand, which is our Season 10 kickoff this Friday on Spike TV.”
Currently the No. 2 ranked lightweight on the UFC roster, Melendez agreed to terms with Bellator MMA on an undisclosed “multi-fight, multi-year” deal in mid-February following soured contract negotiations with the UFC. Due to the terms of Melendez’s original Zuffa contract, the UFC retained the right to match any competing offer, which it has now elected to do.
So what does all that mean? Well UFC officials announced that Melendez will coach opposite lightweight champion Anthony Pettis on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, which will be followed by a title fight between the two coaches in late-2014.