Gilbert Melendez inks deal with Bellator MMA, UFC retains right to match offer

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Gilbert Melendez taking on the winner of Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler? It could happen!

Remember a couple of years ago when we were flirting with a legitimate non-UFC "super fight" between Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and Bellator MMA 155-pound kingpin Eddie Alvarez?

It could still happen.

That's because "El Nino" has reached an agreement with the Viacom-owned promotion for a "multi-fight, multi-year deal" on Spike TV, as well as any upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) events the world's number two mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion intends to stage.

Unless...

Unless Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) decides to play hardball and matches the current deal on Melendez. While it could ultimately result in more cash for the veteran lightweight, a battle for his services could also keep him out of the cage for an extended period of time.

Something that happened to Eddie Alvarez just last year.

"The moment Gil was legally able to explore the free agent market, Gil's management team reached out to me and we began figuring out how to bring Gil to Bellator," said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney in today's release. "Gil was one of the first fighters I tried to sign when I launched Bellator back in 2008, and he's grown and developed into one of the best and most exciting lightweights on earth. Gil has a vision for what he wants to accomplish both inside and outside the cage and we can help make his vision a reality."

Bellator is no stranger to former UFC fighters.

Melendez became available to negotiate earlier this week when UFC President Dana White informed "El Nino" he should be "looking elsewhere" for employment. Not because he was disliked by the promotion, but rather because White didn't want to deal with his manager.

Who just so happens to be the same person who manages "crazy" Georges St. Pierre.

Nothing is official at this time and UFC has yet to respond; however, you can expect this story to heat up in the coming days (especially after this comment), as White will undoubtedly be hounded by reporters at the upcoming media scrums for UFC Fight Night 36 and beyond.

Stay tuned.

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