Gilbert Melendez used free agency to his advantage.
At one point, Melendez was considered one of the best lightweights in mixed martial arts. Back in 2013, “El Nino” was brought over to the UFC once Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa. He earned an immediate title shot, which he lost by split decision. He went on to defeat Diego Sanchez in one of the most memorable bouts in lightweight history.
Melendez agreed to sign with Bellator after the bout, but the UFC had the right to match. “El Nino” laid out his contract demands and the UFC felt he was worth the extra incentives. During a recent appearance on MMA Junkie Radio, Melendez talked a bit about being able to use free agency to his advantage:
“There’s definitely fatter contracts, but I’ve got a good contract. I can’t say (I get pay-per-view points on every fight), but there is a purse and some other things that are factored in that add up … to what we’re looking for. We brainstormed some really good things that were important to me that cover some other payments.”
Melendez takes on Jeremy Stephens on Sept. 9 at UFC 215. It’ll be “El Nino’s” return to the featherweight division.