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Gilbert Melendez Reaches Deal with Bellator

By Phillip Hays on February 14, 2014

BellatorAt 22-3, Gilbert Melendez sits atop the UFC’s lightweight division. With victories over Josh Thomson, Diego Sanchez, Shinya Aoki and Jorge Masvidal, “El Nino” is ready for a new crop of challengers as the Santa Ana native has agreed to a multi-fight, multi-year deal structure with Bellator that can pit Melendez against some of MMA’s best, including Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Will Brooks, Dave Jansen and a host of top lightweights from around the world.

“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. “It’s no secret that I’ve been a big “El Nino” fan for many years. 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.  We are in the business of developing and showcasing the greatest fighters on earth. That’s what we intend to do here with Gil and it’s what we’ll continue to do in the future.”

The UFC currently holds matching rights on Melendez.


  • philh4

    Good move by Gil.

  • Olydog09

    A little surprising but with Bellator in need of marketable fighters it should be a great move for Gilbert. He would have made good money in the UFC but would have been stuck in a log jam of fighters with similar pedigree and abilities. With Bellator currently in need of top level guys that are marketable he can probably cut a fat hog. El Nino has done some broadcasting for Fox. Maybe Viacom can sweeten the deal with some new opportunities for Gil. He is not getting younger.