Friday, 14 February 2014 16:06
Bellator released today that UFC star Gilbert Melendez has agreed to a multi-year contract with the organization, however, they can't ink the deal because UFC has a matching rights period.
What's notable about this is Bellator putting out a press release and making this public because if Bellator has made a better offer than UFC, it would make sense for Melendez to agree and bring the offer to UFC.
Negotiations between UFC and Melendez have been rocky of late. Dana White has stated that he has pulled out of the talk because he doesn't like Melendez's agent, and is leaving the talks to Lorenzo Fertitta.
Melendez's contract expired after his 10/19 victory over Diego Sanchez in Houston, in a fight that was voted by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers as the 2013 match of the year. Prior to that, Melendez lose a close split decision in a lightweight title match with Benson Henderson on 4/20, that many believed Melendez should have taken the title in.
Melendez was, on a per fight basis, the highest paid lightweight based on base salary, in UFC, due to the original contract he had signed with Strikeforce.
The lightweight situation is interesting because the Bellator champion is Eddie Alvarez. His future with the company is questionable because he has wanted to go to UFC. Legal issues regarding matching rights fees and interpretations of such left him unable to take a UFC offer, which with the benefit of hindsight, would have made him millions.
If UFC passes on matching the terms, it would be the first championship level UFC fighter, still in his prime, that Bellator would have outbidded UFC for.
It would mean a major philosophical change to company business.