Fightbook MMA was the first to report on November 11th that UFC had released Gilbert Melendez from his contract. The former Lightweight title contender has now made it official by putting out a statement via ESPN.
Melendez (22-8) admitted that his UFC journey was a fun ride in which he was involved in one of the most entertaining fights in the promotion's history when he took on Diego Sanchez at UFC 166. He added that the release was a mutual decision and that he was leaving the company on good terms.
Here's what he told ESPN:
“It was a fun ride with the UFC that I really enjoyed. 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 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.” H/t Credit: MMA News
There was a lot of hype surrounding 'El Nino' when he was signed up by the UFC in 2013. However, things didn't work out for the former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion as he went on to have an unimpressive 1-6 record in the UFC.
Melendez was suspended for a year when he tested positive for testosterone metabolites after his split decision loss to Eddie Alvarez in 2015. Any chances of a career resurgence were squashed when he returned after the suspension and lost to Edson Barbosa in 2016.
Melendez went on to lose his next two fights against Jeremy Stephens and Arnold Allen respectively, with his last fight happening in July earlier this year.
Melendez has not won a single fight since his barnburner against Diego Sanchez in 2013 and leaving the UFC was the ideal decision to make for the 37-year-old American.
Will Bellator come knocking on Melendez's door now that he is a free agent? Let us know what you think in the comments section.