Gilbert Melendez in contract dispute with UFC, WSOF offer him way out

Gilbert Melendez (red gloves) in his fight of the year 2013 candidate with Diego Sanchez at UFC 166. Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani reported on Monday that contract talks have turned sour between the UFC and Gilbert Melendez’s management, and now WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz has offered the former Strikeforce lightweight champion the ‘biggest match of [his] career’.

Helwani reported the following on Monday regarding the contract dispute,

“It’s not looking good. I spoke to UFC President Dana White yesterday. He said, ‘I’m done with Gilbert. I like Gilbert very much, but I don’t like his manager.’ He has the same manager as GSP. Dana said: ‘Being GSP’s best friend doesn’t make you a good manager.’ Dana said if Gilbert wants to fight in the UFC, he should call Lorenzo quickly and he also should start looking elsewhere.”

With Dana publicly losing his patience and stigmatising the management team of Melendez, who is ranked #2 in the world at 155lbs, this is a worrying sign. White is known for his outspoken nature and though this can sometimes be a blessing for MMA media and fans, on occasions like these it does the promotion more harm than good.

Melendez is one of the best fighters at lightweight and was involved in a close split decision loss for the belt at UFC on FOX 7 against Benson Henderson. After an incredible fight with Diego Sanchez in his last bout, Melendez could be just one more win away from another shot, but now things have taken a turn for the worse.

In a tweet yesterday, WSOF’s matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz had this to say,

Granted, the World Series of Fighting do not have the same calibre fighters at their disposal to what the UFC offer, but their president does not publicly slate their fighters and they reportedly pay their fighters handsomely. Former Bellator champion Michael Chandler has also called out Gilbert Melendez in the hope ‘El Nino’ will make the move over to Bellator instead, and a fight with Eddie Alvarez is another intriguing one for the former Strikeforce champ.

Melendez was scheduled to fight Russian standout Khabib Nurmagomedov, but that fight was scrapped for undisclosed reasons. Now, it seems the breakdown in contract negotiations was the reason why, and from a fan’s perspective, the UFC should be doing all they can to keep ‘El Nino’ around.

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