The UFC announced on Sunday night that former Strikeforce champion and UFC title contender Gilbert Melendez has re-signed with the organisation. They were given matching rights after Melendez was offered a deal with Bellator, but a resolution has been reached.
The deal is somewhat surprising as UFC president Dana White publicly slated Melendez’s management team, and advised ‘El Nino’ to look elsewhere. Bellator’s offer for Melendez included pay-per-view points and a $200,000 per fight salary, and the UFC have matched this and then some.
On top of the deal, the #2 lightweight’s multi-fight deal will contest 75 percent of his fights on pay-per-view, and has been revealed as a coach of the upcoming The Ultimate Fighter season 20. He will coach alongside UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, and fight for the title after the season concludes airing. Filming is scheduled for May, with the pair likely to fight before the end of 2014.
Pettis was originally dubbed to be paired alongside Jose Aldo for his first lightweight title defence, but the UFC have gone down a different route. In some ways, this is a more pleasing one – Melendez stays in the UFC, Pettis gets to defend his belt against a top contender, and Aldo still gets to fight a list of valid contenders including Chad Mendes and Cub Swanson amongst others.
The TUF 20 season will see some of the greatest women’s strawweight fighters in the world compete with one another, including the likes of Carla Esparza, Joanne Calderwood and Tecia Torres all imported from Invicta FC.
The tweet posted last night by UFC president Dana White can be found below, with an attachment of the official announcement.
Here are the new coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter http://t.co/7iUMzsKSc0
— Dana White (@danawhite) February 24, 2014