Gilbert Melendez from Going to Bellator to Coach TUF & Title Shot


After some strenuous negotiations the top free agent in MMA, former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (22-3) will remain a competitor in The Ultimate Fighting Championships, the promotion announced today.

Last week the internet was a buzz with reports that contract talks between the Melendez camp and the UFC had went south and that President Dana White suggested that “El Nino” look elsewhere. Next came word that Melendez and Bellator MMA had reached a contract agreement that was pending finalization; due to the UFC having matching rights.

The specifics of Melendez’s new deal with the UFC were not released, but up next for Melendez is coaching the 19th season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite of UFC Lightweight title holder Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, who Melendez will challenge for the belt after the season. The 19th season of TUF will feature the Women’s Strawweight title tournament.

Melendez in two UFC bouts has lost a split decision to Benson Henderson that ended a 7 fight win streak. “El Nino” rebounded at UFC 166 defeating Diego Sanchez in a bout that was fight of the night and a 2013 fight of the year candidate.

Anthony Pettis in 2013 pulled out of Featherweight title bout with Jose Aldo due to a knee injury. “Showtime” recovered and then replaced an injured TJ Grant at UFC 163 submitting Benson Henderson to win the UFC Lightweight title. Pettis was then announced to make his first title defense against Josh Thomson, but again a knee injury would force his withdrawal. It had been rumored, talked about, and hyped up; that upon recover from the knee injury that Pettis would be again on track for a Superfight with Jose Aldo.

But I guess plans changed, for some unknown reason?

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