Following his fight of the year contender against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166, former lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez became a free agent. Negotiations with the UFC went south during the exclusive period and Melendez fielded offers from the competition. Bellator stepped up with a substantial offer including PPV points and a TV spot. The UFC matched the offer and retained the services of Melendez putting him in his second title fight against Anthony Petttis.
In the wake of Melendez re-signing with the UFC, Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez has a different theory on "El Nino's" decision. Alvarez recently spoke with MMA Fighting and had this to say about Melendez:
"Wherever Gilbert goes, he wants to be the top dog, which is the same reason he's avoided me and will for years to come," Alvarez told MMAFighting.com. "Gilbert had the opportunity in the Dream tournament, he didn't. He had the opportunity to sign with Bellator, and go into a Bellator tournament, he didn't. And now he had the opportunity to come to Bellator where I am. He doesn't want to come where I am. He's a phony. It's a facade, it's a mask, he says he wants to fight me, he doesn't want to fight me."
"He says he wants to fight me when I make headlines," Alvarez said. "That's the only time, so he can get some attention. Other than that, Gilbert Melendez does not want to fight me. He knows its a bad fight for him, a bad night for him, that's the real truth with that."
Back in 2010, there were a lot of rumors about Bellator and Strikeforce co-promoting a clash of champions between Melendez and Alvarez. At the time, both Bellator CEO and Alvarez placed the blame on Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.
Despite Alvarez's own experience with matching rights, he's now calling Melendez out for ducking him. It should be clear that with the UFC matching the offer from Bellator, Gilbert was obligated to sign with them. It seems more likely that Alvarez is building a narrative to his hopeful debut in the top promotion in MMA. Before that, he'll have to face Michael Chandler in a rubber match in Bellator's second attempt in putting on their first PPV event on May 17.