Earlier this week, it was announced that former two-time Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez had been released from the UFC.
Melendez, who fought Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight title back in 2013, is on a five-fight losing streak and hasn’t won a fight since UFC 166, which saw ‘El Nino’ beat Diego Sanchez in a Fight of the Night classic at Houston’s Toyota Center. Melendez tested positive for ‘for exogenous origin of testosterone metabolites’ in 2015 and was suspended for one year.
Following his release, Melendez issued the following statement to ESPN, where he claimed to have left the UFC on great terms.
“It was a fun ride with the UFC that I really enjoyed,” Melendez said. “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”.
With Melendez now a free agent, expect the MMA veteran to sign with either Bellator MMA or ONE FC.