After a six-year run with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Gilbert Melendez was released from the promotion amid a five-fight losing streak. Indeed, “El Nino” only managed to rack up a 1-5 record inside the Octagon, with his lone win coming against Diego Sanchez back at UFC 166.
It was a memorable fight to say the least (see it here), and Gilbert leaves the promotion with his held high because of it.
“It was a fun ride with UFC that I really enjoyed,” Melendez told ESPN. “I feel I gave them one of the more entertaining fights in their history (against Diego Sanchez), and I appreciate all they’ve done. They’ve done a bunch of cool stuff for all their fighters,” he added.
According to Melendez — the former Strikefoce Lightweight champion — getting let go of his contractual duties with UFC was best for both parties. And while he appreciated the opportunity and leaves the promotion on great terms, he feels the promotion obviously favored needle-movers and title holders.
That’s why if he ever decides to compete again, he will look to do it with a promotion that gives him a lot of say in his career.
“The said, I do feel this release is mutual. I was ready to move on. I feel like if I were to fight again, it would like to do it on my own terms and steer my own ship. The UFC is a fantastic organization, but they have their agenda, and unless you’re a champion or super strong needle mover, you don’t have as much say in your career,” he added.
“If I do get back in the cage, I want it to be with a company that agrees with the path that I want to be on. But I’m leaving UFC on great terms.”
The obvious choice would be Bellator MMA, as Melendez has a rich history with Scott Coker due to thier days working together under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner.
But that isn’t the only other show in the game, as ONE Championship and Combate Americas have become major players in their own right, giving “El Nino” plenty of opportunities to find a new combat home.