UFC Has Option to Match

Published on February 14th, 2014 9:54 pm EST

Former Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez could be on his way out of the UFC after signing a deal with Bellator.

Melendez is a free agent right now and hasn't been able to come to terms on a deal with the UFC. The situation was mentioned by UFC President Dana White earlier in the week, with White saying that he was "sick" of dealing with Gilbert's management team and that Gilbert could "hit the bricks" if he wasn't happy with what the promotion was offering him.

Melendez and his management team seem to have gotten the message, as they opened negotiations with Bellator and reportedly signed a deal earlier today. Per the terms of Gilbert's contract, the UFC has the option to match Bellator's deal and keep Melendez in the fold. It's unclear as to what the UFC is planning on doing at this point.

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Melendez was one of the fighters that was brought over from Strikeforce after the UFC bought the promotion a few years ago. Melendez has had some very entertaining fights with the likes of Benson Henderson and Diego Sanchez since entering the UFC.

Melendez and his team entered contract negotiations on a high following Gilbert's monumental fight with Diego Sanchez. Strikeforce compensated their top end fighters very well, and the UFC assumed Gilbert's contract when he moved over from Strikeforce. I'm assuming that Gilbert and his team asked for a raise, while the UFC requested a pay cut (same as they did with Dan Henderson).

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At any rate, Gilbert Melendez has one foot out the door of the UFC right now, and it will be interesting to see if the UFC decides to match the Bellator offer. At this point, there is no more negotiating to be done with the UFC - either the promotion can match Bellator's offer or let Melendez leave.


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