The UFC have agreed to match Bellator’s terms for Gilbert Melendez in order to keep him in the promotion, and it means the former Strikeforce lightweight champion will become one of the best paid fighters in MMA.
While Melendez’s new basic salary hasn’t yet been revealed, MMAFighting.com reports that his new contract calls for him to fight on pay-per-view in 75% of his upcoming fights, and will not only earn a cut of the PPV revenue at a lower minimum buy rate than any other fighter in UFC history, but also will enjoy those PPV points regardless of whether he’s fighting in the main event or just on the main card.
In other words, it looks like Bellator purposefully offered Melendez a deal that had several clauses in it that would make it tough for the UFC to match, yet they’ve opted to bite the bullet in order to keep him in the Octagon rather than see their No.1 lightweight contender jump ship to their rivals.
It’s a big win for Melendez who up, until approaching Bellator, had been struggling to come to terms with the UFC on a new deal, with the promotion believed to have been playing hard ball with him.
He’s now undoubtedly put pen to paper on a much better deal than he’d have had otherwise, and meanwhile, though they haven’t managed to secure his signature, Bellator have upset the UFC’s applecart by publically showing that they’re a viable financial alternative to the sport’s biggest promotion.
As a result, other high profile UFC fighters may now be taking note as to how Melendez handled his business, and that could leave the promotion in further awkward spots in the months and years ahead when it comes to contract renegotiations.
Meanwhile, in addition to Melendez’s new UFC deal he’s also just been announced as a coach on ‘The Ultimate Fighter Season 20’ opposite current lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Pettis Vs Melendez was a fight that was believed to be under serious consideration before the contract saga unfolded, but given that the UFC is now paying a small fortune for Melendez’s services it makes even more sense to have him do so, with TUF being a good vehicle to help generate additional interest in their eventual showdown.