Gilbert Melendez will not only continue fighting for the UFC, but he will do so for the lightweight title.
The UFC confirmed reports Sunday that Melendez (22-3) was re-signed after the organization matched an offer sheet from Bellator.
The UFC also confirmed that Melendez will now appear as a coach in the 20th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, with the two slated to fight for the title later this year.
MMAFighting.com, who first reported the agreement, said the deal guarantees 75 per cent of Melendez's fights will be on pay-per-view. Furthermore, the agreement ensures the 31-year-old will earn income on pay-per-view points regardless of the success of the event, as well as his position in the main event, co-main event or main card.
Such a contract will likely make “El Nino” one of the highest paid fighters in the organization. He already makes a reported $200,000 per fight, which combined with his upcoming pay-per-view earnings is sure to place him among the sport's elite incomes.
Melendez was the hottest free agent on the market, however, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was not bitter about missing out on the prize.
“We have a stacked lightweight roster and Gil would have made a great addition to it, yet I'm glad he was able to go out, explore the free agent market and get paid what he deserves,” Rebney told MMAFighting.com.
“That's what the free market system is all about. I'm happy for Gil, that through this process he was able to ensure long term financial security for himself and his family. That's what the fighters that put it all on the line inside the cage deserve."