Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez recently made headlines after it was announced that he had agreed in principle to a fight contract with Bellator MMA after negotiations with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) went south.
And fight fans can thank UFC President Dana White's beef with "El Nino's" manager -- who just so happens to be Georges St-Pierre's best friend -- for that.
But if you think White is upset at Gilbert for testing the free agent waters, think again. In fact, it's quite the opposite, as the outspoken head honcho declared during his recent video scrum (video) that "El Nino" looking out for his monetary interest is a good thing.
What he does find odd, is that the situation has been turned into a negative issue when it's anything but.
"Here's the funny thing about that. It's one or the other. We're a monopoly, guys can't make more money. Guys can't do this. The guy is out there, its a free trade, he's out there testing the waters to see what he's worth. And now it's like some big fucking issue. 'He's the number one and you're not going to sign him?' He's out there testing the waters, this is how this shit works. Is it a bad thing? I thought this was everybody wanted. 'There's no money. UFC has all the money and these guys can't do this.' This guy is out there testing the waters and now this is one big fucking negative issue? I don't get it."
Furthermore, White says if Melendez does indeed end up with Bellator, then he can kiss a potential UFC return goodbye. Not because White won't have him back, but because "El Nino" won't be able to get out of his Bellator contract.
"I like Gilbert, we'll see what happens. I made that clear several weeks ago, I'm not involved. Gilbert is out there testing the market, good for him. I don't have any hard feelings for Gilbert Melendez. I'm just not a big fan of the guys who I was dealing with, but you know, this happens sometimes. So, you know what happens? I don't deal with it. If he fucking signs a deal with fucking those guys, he ain't going anywhere. Nobody can get out of those fucking deals they have. And Viacom will sue you until you fucking bleed, sue you until you bleed. Yeah, that's a whole 'nother ball game over there. Everybody wants to talk about the UFC, how we're bullies or whatever, they're the fucking bullies. And they have these contracts that you cannot get out of. Look at Eddie Alvarez."
Indeed, UFC has been accused of being a monopoly in the past, a claim White hopes letting Melendez try to grab some more coin with another company disproves. Then again, the whole monopoly issue has already been debunked thanks to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Nevertheless, UFC still holds the right to match Bellator's offer to Melendez should they wish to do so. But judging by early talks, that's unlikely to happen.
Then again, as Dana White also revealed, he will have nothing to do with Gilbert's contract negotiations moving forward, so maybe dealing with another top UFC executive, perhaps Lorenzo Fertitta, might bring "El Nino" back to the Octagon before he bolts for Bellator.