The UFC is the biggest promotion in all of MMA. They are a promotion that sets the trends and does some unprecedented things, which chances the landscape of how MMA functions. They also have a history of having disputes with their fighters, especially in terms of contract negotiations.
This has proven valid with fighters over the years, such as Randy Couture, B.J. Penn and several other marquee fighters. Now you can add Gilbert Melendez to the list of disgruntled employees. Melendez, fresh off his exciting, thrilling win over Diego Sanchez, has been engaged in a contract dispute with the UFC. Melendez and his manager, who also manages St. Pierre, feel Melendez is owed a bit more money than he’s getting, and apparently the UFC is not willing to play ball with him.
In fact, Dana White, the outspoken president of the UFC, told Melendez that since he won’t accept the contract that was laid on the table, he should look elsewhere for employment. Those are some harsh words for a fighter who’s arguably the best lightweight on the planet right now.
Things took another shocking turn for Melendez, as it appears he’s inked a deal with Bellator, arguably the second best promotion in MMA right now. Melendez will get a multi-fight contract and will also be on some pay per view events, unless the UFC decides to match their offer. If history tells us anything, Melendez is long gone and won’t be fighting in the UFC for a long time. If the UFC didn’t want to match Bellator’s offer for Ben Askren, one of the best wrestlers in mixed martial arts, there’s no way they are going to match Bellator’s offer for Melendez, as it sets a precedent for even associating the UFC’s name with Bellator.
This is sad news for Melendez’s fans, because he was on the verge of a UFC title shot. Now, he will have to fight under the Bellator promotion, which will not gain him as much as exposure as he would have gotten under the UFC banner. This is not the best decision he should have made. He should have talked with the UFC a little more and worked things out, because it takes time with these kinds of negotiations.
Being a UFC fighter is unlike anything else in the world. All of the fame and popularity that comes with being a fighter is not something that comes easy. Now, Melendez will have to settle for second best, and even if he is to go on to beat either Eddie Alvarez or Michael Chandler and become a champion, it will not be the same as being a UFC champion.