Gilbert Melendez was the first big name fighter to agree to an offer from Bellator and the UFC had the right to match the offer. The question of whether the UFC would match the offer loomed over the MMA world since it was announced that Melendez had agreed to a deal with Bellator about ten days ago.
UFC officials announced late last night that they were matching Bellator’s offer to Melendez. The company also announced that “El Nino” would be a coach of The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 opposite lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. The two will fight later in 2014.
“The Ultimate Fighter 20″ begins filming in May and as previously reported will feature the launch of the promotion’s women’s strawweight division. The winner of the season, which debuts Sept. 10 on FOX Sports 1, will become the first UFC women’s 115-pound champion. The UFC has already signed some of the world’s best fighters for the series, including Carla Esparza, Alex Chambers, Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Bec Hyatt, Emily Kagan, Juliana Lima, Rose Namajunas, Tecia Torres, Paige VanZant and Joanne Calderwood.
Melendez is also expected to make an appearance on the recently-announced “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” series, which debuts this summer. Broadcast plans for that series are expected to be announced shortly.
No terms were announced regarding Melendez’s contract.