This week, longtime UFC veteran Gilbert Melendez was handed his walking papers from the UFC. Now, Melendez has released a statement after being let go by the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.

Here’s what Melendez had to say to ESPN.

“It was a fun ride with the UFC that I really enjoyed,” Melendez told ESPN. “I feel I gave them one of the most entertaining fights in their history (against Diego Sanchez), and I appreciate all they’ve done. They have done a bunch of cool stuff for all of their fighters.

“That said, I do feel this release is mutual. I was ready to move on. I feel like, if I were to fight again, I would like to do it on my terms and steer my own ship. The UFC is a fantastic organization, but they have their agenda, and unless you’re a champion or a super strong needle mover, you don’t have as much say in your career. If I do get back in the cage, I want it to be with a company that agrees with the path that I want to be on. But I’m leaving the UFC on great terms”.

Melendez signed on with the UFC in 2013 after reigning as the Strikeforce lightweight champion. He got an immediate title shot against Benson Henderson, coming up just short via split decision. After picking up a great win over Diego Sanchez, he received a title shot against Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, which he lost via submission.

That marked the beginning of a five-fight losing streak, not having won since 2013.

What do you make of the UFC releasing Melendez?