According to sources close with MMAFighting and a statement sent to them by Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney, lightweight Gilbert Melendez has re-signed with the UFC after his contract was matched by the UFC.
The news of Melendez’s expired contract surfaced on an episode of UFC Tonight on which Ariel Helwani passed a message from UFC president Dana White which touched on the status of Melendez’s contract.
Melendez’s contract expired after his October 2013 bout against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 and had yet to be officially announced for a bout after just competing in two UFC bouts since his arrival.
— UFC (@ufc) February 24, 2014
Here is the full statement sent from Rebney to MMAFighting:
“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.”
The deal outlines a 75% inclusion rate for pay-per-view appearances for Melendez. This means that 3/4 of his fights on the contract are required to be on a PPV card. In his previous and initial contract with the UFC, Melendez first headlined a UFC on FOX card in a losing effort against then-champion Benson Henderson, then taking on Sanchez at the UFC 166 PPV. It was also reported by sources close to MMAFighting that the PPV points will begin to tally up at the lowest buy rate in UFC history for a fighter.
The first fight on his multi-fight, multi-year contract will be another title fight, this time against new UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis upon concluding opposite coaching gigs on the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter.
That season will begin filming in May and air on September 10th, although no date was given for Melendez’s title fight with Pettis.
As a reminder, The Ultimate Fighter 20 will be an all-female cast but this time, the winner of the competition will not only be given a contract with the UFC, but also crowned as the inaugural UFC strawweight champion. The participants in the 20th season of TUF will also be paid an $8,000/$8,000 salary as a replacement for a show/win salary, twice from the time of their being casted and the end of the show, so that they can stay in shape before entering the house. Invicta FC champ Carla Esparza will be paid $10,000/$10,000 given her champion status.