It wasn’t long ago that it appeared former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez would be taking his talents to Bellator, but news surfaced late last night that the UFC exercised their right to match Bellator’s offer and re-sign Melendez.
Not only is Melendez returning to the UFC, but he will get a title shot against Anthony Pettis along with a coaching slot on The Ultimate Fighter 20.
Pettis will defend his title against Melendez in late-2014.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney responded to the news with a statement:
“It’s my understanding that the UFC matched the deal we agreed to with Gilbert,” Rebney said, via MMAFighting.com. “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.”
For MMA fans, this is great news.
One of the best 155-pounders in the world will be returning to the octagon and we get to see a fight that everyone had been hoping for.