With Gilbert Melendez’ UFC Contract Expired, Dana White Says ‘El Nino’ Should Probably Start Looking Elsewhere


In a story that quickly blew up out of nowhere, former Strikeforce lightweight champion and current UFC lightweight gilbert “El Nino” Melendez may soon be wishing that the Sacramento-based MMA promotion hadn’t been bought by his most recent employer.

Once rumored to be facing surging prospect Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 170, Melendez instead said he was looking for another fight. But news has come today that he may be looking for a new job. Ariel Helwani revealed on tonight’s edition of “UFC Tonight” that Melendez’ UFC contract has run out, and negotiations are going horribly thanks to Dana White disagreeing with his management:

“Honestly, it’s not looking good right now. I actually spoke to UFC president Dana White yesterday about the contract negotiations. A lot of people might not know this, but Gilbert Melendez, his contract with the UFC has expired, and he told me, ‘I’m done. It’s not going well, I’m done. I couldn’t care less at this point.’

He said, ‘I like Gilbert Melendez very much; I just don’t like his management. He said if Gilbert Melendez wants to fight in the UFC, he better call Lorenzo Fertitta quickly. He said he also probably should start looking elsewhere.”

It sounds like White has been pushed to his breaking point, because there’s not much doubt that he most likely wants to keep one of the world’s best lightweights fighting in the Octagon.

However, if “El Niño’s” management is playing hardball with the UFC, we all know how that’s going to work out. Not well, and Melendez could be looking for a new cage to throw down in.

There aren’t too many attractive options available to Melendez right now, with Bellator’s lightweight division probably being the best available choice. Matching “El Nino” up with either champion Eddie Alvarez or Michael Chandler would make for some potentially huge fights.

World Series of Fighting just crowned its first 155-pound champion in talented Denver-based striker Justin Gaethje. It’s doubtful that Melendez would end up there, but a fight with Gaethje could be an exciting affair.

Overall, however, Melendez needs to be fighting in the Octagon. He’s one of the best lightweights in the world, and the only place to prove that is in the UFC. At some point he’s going to have to realize that it’s not worth wasting the biggest earning years of his career quarrelling with management.

There’s still a good shot that Melendez can crawl his way back towards another UFC title shot, so now is the time to get booked in another blockbuster bout.

Much has been made of the UFC’s model for paying fighters. Whose side are you on here? And do you think Melendez’ gripe is enough to justify leaving the UFC?

Photo: Kyle Terada for USA TODAY Sports

  • Wow someday Dana may grow up and be a business man and stop being so sensitive.

  • WHAT??? This kid is top 3 in the world….this bald mofo douch bag is probably saying this negotiate his contract lower…no way the ufc will release him.

  • Sounds like all he had to to was take the fight with Khabib to avoid all this.

    But sure go ahead and blame Dana for everything you don't like ufc related.

    • Yeah that's what it sounds like. Or maybe its about money. I will blame Dana since he is the president of the company.

    • @highkick exactly! People are quick to jump to conclusions and be all over Dana's dick! For Dana to be close to let Gilbert walk, his management MUST be on some bullshit. Cause there's no way the UFC would want Gilbert to walk.. He's top 3 and an exciting fighter, so there's more to this shit!

      • The only people who make any real money right now are the champs and the brass, thats not good. At this level the brass need to share more.

        • Gilbert gets paid PLENTY!

          • Yes but it's likely he's being asked to take a significant cut.

          • Also I consider him a former champ, crossover champs get more as well but still not much comparitively in most cases.

        • That's a lie. There are a few fighters who get paid good money, Melendez being 1 of them. There are also other types of fighters who get paid a small chunk but find ways to make ALOT IE: Joe Lauzon, who just wins bonus check after bonus check. Melendez also has plenty of sponsors. That whole team over there him and the Diaz' get paid alot more than most in the UFC.

          • Still those fighters are in the minority and it is that which I am refering too as in fighters in general. There is the odd Chael, Joe Lauzon, and Melendez who is likely told he's getting a pay cut from guys that keep getting raises.

  • With all the issues this week, Melendez, Overeem, the Fight Bonuses and the monthly period, tough week for Dana.

    • And it just got worse… Evans is out with an injury… match has been scraped… the UFC is off to a rough start for 2014.

  • Melendez is a beast. A real fighter. Hopefully something fans out for him.

  • Damm "Facepolm"…dammit DG you got in my head!

  • I'm not surprised by this. Dana would cut his own hand if he thought it was asking for too much money. He doesn't care what the fans want, only what brings him closer to that solid gold swimming pool.

  • He cant be cut, the dude had great fight with diego sanchez..Have a sense of loyalty Zuffa/Dana…His management just know that the UFC makes a lot of money and they want a hefty but reasonable slice of the big Ufc pie…

  • No one knows what Gil's management asked for.