Photo by Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com.
Report by Resolution Sports
After stalled contract negotiations with the UFC led to an agreement in principle by lightweight Gilbert Melendez (22-3) with Bellator MMA, the UFC announced late on Sunday night that the organization had come to terms on a new deal with the former Strikeforce champion.
A little over a week ago, UFC President Dana White suggested that Melendez had “better start looking elsewhere” once talks between the two parties had come to a standstill. That immediately made Melendez the most sought after lightweight in the world, and Bellator MMA quickly jumped on the opportunity to get him signed. With a deal in place by principle, the UFC still had the right to match any proposal on the table. All sides were mute over the past week before a late Sunday night press release came out from the UFC just before midnight on the East Coast.
In addition to signing an extension with the UFC, Melendez was also named one of the two coaches for the upcoming season of its reality series, The Ultimate Fighter. Furthermore, current UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis was named his opposition for the show, giving Melendez another crack at UFC gold because the two TUF coaches always meet in the Octagon after the conclusion of the program. The Santa Ana native lost a highly controversial decision to then titleholder Benson Henderson last year and was the last person to ever hold that belt in Strikeforce before it was bought out by Zuff LLC last January.
Filming for the 20th season of TUF will get underway in May, with the shows beginning to air on September 10th on FOX Sports 1.