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Bellator & Gilbert Melendez Agree on Structure to Bring Top Lightweight To Bellator

Fri, 02.14.2014 / 12:00AM

UFC Now Holds Right to Match Offer

Newport Beach, Calif. (February 14, 2014) – At 22-3, Gilbert Melendez sits atop the UFC’s lightweight division. With victories over Josh Thomson, Diego Sanchez, Shinya Aoki and Jorge Masvidal, “El Nino” is ready for a new crop of challengers as the Santa Ana native has agreed to a multi-fight, multi-year deal structure with Bellator that can pit Melendez against some of MMA’s best, including Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Will Brooks, Dave Jansen and a host of top lightweights from around the world.

“The moment Gil was legally able to explore the free agent market, Gil’s management team reached out to me and we began figuring out how to bring Gil to Bellator,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “It’s no secret that I’ve been a big “El Nino” fan for many years. Gil was one of the first fighters I tried to sign when I launched Bellator back in 2008, and he’s grown and developed into one of the best and most exciting lightweights on earth.  Gil has a vision for what he wants to accomplish both inside and outside the cage and we can help make his vision a reality.  We are in the business of developing and showcasing the greatest fighters on earth. That’s what we intend to do here with Gil and it’s what we’ll continue to do in the future.”

The UFC currently holds matching rights on Melendez.

For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA           

About Bellator MMA

Bellator MMA is the world’s largest tournament based Mixed Martial Arts organization. Televised to nearly 500 Million homes worldwide in over 140 countries, Bellator’s majority owner is entertainment giant Viacom.  In the United States, Bellator can be seen on Spike TV, the MMA television leader. With over 175 world-class athletes under contract, Bellator is home to many of the sport’s top mixed martial artists. Bellator’s founder & CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment executive with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes.  Bellator’s core philosophy is that title shots should be earned, not given. This belief gave rise to Bellator’s real sport, tournament-based format, which gives Bellator’s tournaments a true playoff feel that keeps the sport true and distances itself from the subjective side of fighting sports found in organizations that utilize a matchmaking/casting formula.  Bellator MMA is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations.  Bellator is based in Newport Beach, California.

About Spike TV:

Spike TV is available in 98.7 million homes and is a division of Viacom Media Networks.  A unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), Viacom Media Networks is one of the world's leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.  Spike TV's Internet address is www.spike.com and for up-to-the-minute and archival press information and photographs, visit Spike TV's press site at http://www.spike.com/press.  Follow us on Twitter @spiketvpr for the latest in breaking news updates, behind-the-scenes information and photos.