With new UFC contract inked, Ben Henderson set to fight Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7


UFC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson has had a busy couple of weeks recently. He was named Fighter of the Year just last week. He also signed a new eight-fight contract with the promotion after an uproar over free agent Lightweight Eddie Alvarez’s contract terms became widely known. The contract has a ton of potential for the star fighter who is still looking for his first UFC finish.

With that said, Henderson and his team know that there are some awesome fights looming at 155 for the champ. His manager Malki Kawa recently spoke to MMAJunkie and clarified just who they are looking at in the very near future, a fight that is most likely set to take place at UFC on Fox 7:

“We really like the Gilbert Melendez fight, and I’ll tell you why: Gilbert Melendez has been ranked either No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 between himself, Frankie Edgar and Benson,”

“Frankie was considered No. 1 in the world, and Benson beat him. Now some people are saying Gilbert might be No. 1 in the world. OK, well Benson would like to beat him, too, and leave no doubt that he is the best 155-pounder in the world.”

There is no doubt that a bout with the reigning Strikeforce 155 lb. champion would be one for the ages. Melendez himself has been injured and needs a big win in a big fight to solidify his position as one of the top Lightweights in the world.

People may have doubted Henderson towards the end of 2012 due to his razor thin wins over Edgar, but his beating of Nate Diaz squashed most of those beliefs. Kawa continued on about this and the looming bout with Melendez:

“After the Nate Diaz fight, I think he’s getting the respect he deserves. He beat up a guy that was beating everybody up – a guy that brings it every time and had never been dominated the way he was dominated.”

“We’re really interested in fighting Gilbert Melendez, and we’ve got a lot of confidence that the UFC will make that fight happen.”

So the outcry over Eddie Alvarez’s contract offer has come and gone, and now Bendo and his camp are back to looking at fighting the best in the world. It would be a statement fight for both fighters who are at the top of their game. It’s tough to say where Melendez is at right now, how badly he is hurt, and how his training is going. But Henderson is top flight and in shape no doubt.

Just now, MMA Fighting has reported that this bout, while still facing some roadblocks, is being targeted for UFC on Fox 7 on April 20th. The event, coming live from the HP Pavilion in Melendez”s backyard of San Jose, CA, should be absolutely electric. Who will win this epic clash of champions?

  • Nice to see Bendos' getting paid, finally. That was an embarrassment to The UFC, IMO. This is good news, particularly in a week where Bellator debuts on SPIKE.

    • @MMA Truth…how many other fighters do you think are sitting on a bad contract?

      • @ Enjoy

        I have no idea, my friend. I wish I knew. I've never found it particularly easy to find out anything about fighter pay. At least other than what I see on this site regarding payouts and bonuses. But even that is a hit and miss, they're not always published.

        I truly wish we knew what the "nut" and bottom-line on The UFC. It would be nice to know just how much the promotion is raking in and what it's paying out, in the way of fighter pay. I mean lets face facts, The UFC doesn't simply make money from putting on fights, anymore. Well, shouldn't the fighters benefit from all the proceeds, not just fight revenue. After all, The UFC is trading of the fan support for the fighters, as it carries over to other things.

        I don't see how a guy can be a professional fighter with a job. It must be tough. And when you take into consideration expenses and compensating your camp / corner and management…I really wonder how much is left over for the non-marquis fighters, in terms of living, buying a home, car etc?

        Example – when I watched the MacDonald / Penn preview, I was shocked at MacDonald was living. And he only just recently bought a new car. He was driving a wreck up until that fight. I really would have thought RM was doing better than that, financially speaking, from his fights in The UFC.

        Fighters need some kind of profit sharing. Something. I think they might be getting robbed blind. They are more than just labor. Collectively, they are The UFC's business partner. Whether Dana and or the fighters even realize it.

        • @MMAtruth…you are absolutely right….I noticed when Lorenzo Fertita is asked about remuneration for fighters he always does the diversion tactics…First he will talk about the history of the ufc being 44 million in the hole….Then he talks about backroom deals to fighterss that he doesn't want to make public…then he says the fighters don't want everyone knowing what they earn…Then he diverts to the UFC insurance policy for fighters….An insurance policy may cost the company $5-10000 per fighter I suspect….But if they are fighting 2 times per year its a very minimal cost for the company calculated each fight. your point about a fighter driving a banged up vehicle with leaking oil is probably a reality for many guys on their roster. Fertita draws too much attention to the few who have become multimillionaires. UFC are printing money which is why the Arab entertainment company bought 10% of the company. i am mainly for bigger payments primarily because of injuries, risk and health…An insurance policy may help you fix your broken back but it won't be there if you can no longer lift later on in life.

          • @ Enjoy

            But how to fix it? And how long will the solution take to come about?

          • @MMA Truth……..There is only one way to fix it, and thats for Dana and Lorenzo to start cutting the pie more generously. I believe the sport can improve for fighters in two ways.

            1. Standard minimum wage.
            2. Compulsory PPV percentage offered to all fighters that are televised.

            The old days of a promotor getting just gate money is long gone.. UFC have the most sophisticated multimillion dollar network deals like fox. Most gates alone are between 1-4 million dollars.

            The one thing I would like to see adopted is a minimum wage set for each fighter that risks their health entertaining….I don't think any fighter should show to fight on less than $50,000 considering they will only fight twice per year. $100,000 is not a great reward for any guy who has trained for years, has to pay managers, nutritionists, gym fees etc…If you enter the uFC you are professional not amateur and should be paid accordingly. This is not a case of economy is bad we don;t have the money. UFC is swimmihg in money and if they can pay one fighter $3 million including PPVs they can do better than 10K to show 10k to win. to undercard fighters.

            I don't know if they will ever fix the problem because UFC are never going to open their books and be transparent in deals.
            Often the UFC have to negotiate or bid against other promotors so it becomes complex to have one model.

            But i think they can start by giving fighters on televised cards a PPV percentage even if it is a much smaller percentage to title holders.

            Anybody who is buying a PPV and sees an exciting fight would like to think that the guy fighting is getting at least a small percentage of the PPV of that card even if its as little as 2-5% divided amongst the undercard fighters…

            I can't see a union happening anytime soon but thats what is needed.

          • @ Enjoy

            It's strange, I've been thinking about this since the post and came up with basically the same solution.

            If by base salary, you mean aside from show and win money, I'd say yes. I think show and win money should be additional. The salary should be carved out of other proceeds and have nothing to do with fighting. It should have everything to do with training. If, to accomplish this, they have to cut some lesser fighters and trim the roster, then so-be-it.

            What would be very helpful would be if The UFC took the company public. They would be awash in money and could easily fund a fighter base salary. I'd say something in the way of 15 to 20 million a year. And accept it for what it is, a business expense. An operating cost.

            I tell ya one thing, The UFC is the biggest thing, now. However, Bellator has a lot of wind under their sails, right now and if, at some stage of the game they take Bellator public and throw a lot of money at this problem and it is a problem, you could well see a great number of entry level future stars and mid-tier fighters jump ship. If enough of them do it, I could easily see where The UFC would have no choice, but to either lose market share to Bellator or take the company public, in order to stem the tide of departing fighters.

            This is a problem easily solved if Dana and the F-brothers want to solve it. If they're bright, they should read the writing on the wall and do something about it, now and do it with a big smile on their faces. They'll end up being the richer and more powerful, for it.

          • @MMaTruth……I think the main problem currently with going public is that their whole business and earnings will be reported. Usually when companies go public they want to raise money to expand but with the fertitas being billionaires I don't think they need help expanding or want to risk losing control. i think they have reached a level where they can't grow too much more besides chinese and indian markets. So I would be surprised if they put it public anytime soon.

          • Stop worrying about things that don't matter. It's not your business what a fighter gets paid. You're an idiot. Clearly UFC fighters get paid enough money to live atleast reasonably comfortable lives if not they wouldn't do it. Why don't you put some thought into people in your own city and state who lack food, clothes or shelter.

          • @ Shit-Stick

            If you're so concerned about people in your own city and state, who lack food, clothes and shelter, tell us, what are you doing about it, other than complaining about it on an MMA forum?

            You're a goof, pal. You probably still believe in Republicans, Democrats, WMD in Iraq, The Federal Reserve, the official "story" of 911, Oswald shot JFK and all the other lies. I

            If' you're so concerned about the people in America, what stand did you take while Congress after Congress, President after President, shipped all of the jobs to China and India. Where were you when they were starting up all the wars of aggression and bled America's treasury dry?

            You probably cried and were outraged at the murder of 20 kids in a school in Connecticut, but you probably don't care about or have even thought about the tens-of-thousands of children that America and its allies have killed in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

            Shit-Stick….take your phoney humanitarianism and patriotism and F-off. You're bogus. You're a faux. You're a joke. You're thoughts on anything are worth nothing.

            Now go help a homeless Veteran in your neighborhood. I'm sure there are plenty from which to choose.

          • First of all retard I never said I was concerned about anyone or anything. I figured if you worried about UFC fighters not being able to survive financially you are just an idiot. You really should put your thought and concern into someone who needs it.

            Second of all you try and insult me by starting your insult off with 'you probably' then you rant for 3 paragraphs about a made up bunch of meaningless garbage.

            I never brought up or portrayed any humanitarianism or patriotism you degenerate loser. Infact you were the one on an MMA message board fighting for MMA fighters financial gain.

            Get a clue you poor ignorant child.

          • You proactively shot your mouth off in a negative manner (to me), about a subject, of which, people were having a serious discussion.

            Now you're upset, because I fired back.

            You're a pussy.

          • well agree with you truth to I also have the thought that its a shark take buisness and they know that getting into it where the truly successful make it to the top and others who live nicely at 6 figures annual, think how long Rory has been in the UFC what other companies do you know would pay someone a significant amount of money after only being with the company for a few years.

          • @ David

            I understand your point and the purpose, here, is not to reward failure or mediocrity. However and also, this is not the bush-leagues. This is not some mom-and-pop, start-up operation. This is a company that must be swimming in money and it's success has been built on two things: being first-to-market and having the best fighters in MMA.

            The window of glory has closed on the first success and the second success, was really not true, back in, let's say 2000 /2001. Only now, can The UFC claim to have the best fighters in all of MMA.

            My point here is this, now that is is no longer a struggling franchise and it looks to hire the best, it should be assumed that anyone they are signing is a professional. I personally would have no problem in trimming the roster of fighters and getting rid of the dead-wood near the bottom, the not-ready-for-prime-time crowd and establishing a base salary for all fighters.

            To me, the bottom line here, is that a professional fighter should only have one job – training and fighting. There are lots of guys out there who have the talent, but who have wives and children, to support. They do not have the luxury of single fighters, like MacDonald, to suck it up and live on a couch for two or three years, while they work their way through the ranks. And that's if they can stay healthy.

            I've seen some of the payouts and have been shocked to see that a fighter might get paid 8 or 10 grand. To me, that's the type of money a fighter should make in terms of proving himself. Unfortunately, I don't see The UFC as a proving ground for those that are trying to make it in the sport. For me, if you've made it that far, to "The Big Show", then you have already proven yourself.

            Cut the dead wood and there is some dead wood and invest in the labor force. That's what I'd do and if Bellator is smart, they'll see this as the soft-underbelly of The UFC's business model.

            How I see it, at any rate.

          • I think this is a paid for performance buisness if you are a green horn in the ufc win your 3 fights and you get a better contract they still pay 10x other orgs pay and since we dont know the under the table bonuses this really is a hard topic lay facts out there. not to mention they all get health insurance even if you are a bottom of the barrel fighter. To me like all things in life it comes down to dedication, desire and sacrafice if you have to work 2 jobs to pursue your dream then so be it, if you slack with your gym time because you want to go play pool with you buddies or go to a bar its natural selection.

          • "3 fights and you get a better contract they still pay 10x other orgs pay and since we dont know the under the table bonuses this really is a hard topic lay facts out there. "

            -SF's numbers were comparable to most of the fighters in the UFC (before and after the acquisition).

            -The UFC obviously pays out back room deals to some people, but it isn't to every fighter. Ben destroyed (and blocked) a guy on his twitter account during his rant about pay last week because the guy insinuated he got more than his commission reported pay. No matter what some fighters say, and some executives of Zuffa let on, all combatants aren't taken care of behind the scenes.

            Which gets to the thought process behind Zuffa having all the power in the first place. Anybody can dream about a perfect world where a person is rewarded for there work, and a company will automatically give said person what they deserve. It just doesn't exist. Zuffa has, and will, give fighters less then they are worth. They will give fighters pay behind the scenes, and set up insurance programs to make some fighters happy while still keeping a lion share of the profits. They will rally against unionization in every way possible, and just down play it as a hindrance to their top tier stars, when in reality they know it would just eat in to their profit share.

            They've played the game well, and it is strictly up to fighters how the business of MMA proceeds going forward. All it will take is one big name star to walk, or rally other fighters in his stable, at the height of his success to see a real change.

        • well agree with you truth to I also have the thought that its a shark take buisness and they know that getting into it where the truly successful make it to the top who 6 figures annual, think how long Rory has been in the UFC what other companies do you know would pay someone a significant amount of money after only being with the company for a few years.

      • gm1

        Unfotunately I believe the UFC will not give Melendez a title shot eventhough he is the SF champ. I personally believe El Nino is overated and he needs to fight a few gatekeepers in his weight division before giving him the title shot. Everyone needs to remember the big hype on Shields…… Where is he now? He has a locker in the UFC next to Volcom….

    • bendo's a boring fighter, he always win a decision. Benson vs melendez is gonna be a super boring fight, for sure if someone wins this fight its gonna be a decision 4 sure.

    • There is a pattern here and belt below WW is being defended on fox/free tv as they prob dont get the best ppv draw out of the other belts. So why not put them on free tv and save the bigger division belts for ppv

  • Fun background to the fight because Melendez has been hyped up for a long time now but seriously if this fight is not competitive… you guys might realise I am not the biggest fan of Bendo (he lost to Frankie both times) but he will make a mess of Melendez.

    He will probably use same gameplan as he did for Frankie… keep it standing and use his length, kicks and jab to pick apart his opponent, with mixed in takedown.
    Only difference is he will be able to do it effectively this time.

    • I agree Keith.

      I dislike both Bendo and Gil. But Bendo is going to outclass Gil. Gil is a good fighter but he's a top 10 for sure. He will be around #7.

      Gil will struggle to get wins together in the LW division. If he can cut to FW I see him going there some time after the Bendo fight.

  • Will be a good fight. Dunno who wins tbh.

  • Awesome News…..

    • Awesome comment 😀 I just can't agree more. Its by far the best news.

  • more than anyone i think bendo has to redeem his lose with pettis.

  • I sure hope Melendez comes in prepared and I hope he can knock Bendo out. That is not what I actually see happening though. Benson will grind out another 5 round bullshit decision. Currently in the lightweight division I think the 2 most likely fighters to beat Henderson are Anthony Pettis and Gray Maynard their styles matchup the best. Pettis has the speed and power and Maynard has the size strength and wrestling.

  • bendo is bigger and never gets tired, this isn't the fight gil should be taking after time off with an injury. if the champ wins hopefully a pettis or aldo matchup is around the corner

  • If Ben can mix in takedowns he will be able to beat up Gil in the scrambles and on the ground. If he can't, he will get lit up standing. Gil is a lot faster than Nate, and hits much harder than Frankie. Ben has fallen in love with the kicks, and Gilbert is the complete wrong person to do that against.

    Should be a good one if it happens.

  • Take a look at this: http://fightnomics.com/blog/ufc-finish-rates-by-weight/

    You will see the trend is the lighter the division the more fights go to decision with featherweight having 53% of all fights going to decision. I'm not a huge Henderson fan and don't regard him as the true LW champ as he lost to Edgar second time round and the first fight was only due to massive damage done by a single upkick (Edgar still outclassed him overall and true round scoring was a win for Edgar or draw if you gave hendo a 10-8 round) but I can't stand the retards who criticise his lack of finishes. Look at the guys he has been fighting and how hard they are to finish. He is without a doubt a very talented LW and may win a few before he loses the belt but as much as I don't rate him as high as others I don't detract one iota from him because of lack of finishes.

    • PS: Where are you onemoreretard? Finally a thread without you hating on GSP.

      • @azzkika….
        The short yellow bus he rides home from the "special" school does not get him home until 3:30. Then he has to have "snacky time".