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Gilbert Melendez signs with Bellator

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According to a Feb. 14 report from ProMMANow.com, Gilbert Melendez has agreed to a multi-fight, multi-year deal with Bellator.

Terms of the contract were not released to the public. It should be noted that the UFC has the right to match terms of the contract to keep him from heading to Bellator.

“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 and 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.”

Melendez, the No. 2-ranked lightweight in the world, holds a 22-3 overall record, with victories over Diego Sanchez, Josh Thomson and others.

Just one day before news broke that Melendez signed with Bellator, Michael Chandler came out on his Twitter page that he wanted to welcome the standout striker into the promotion.

Analysis: It's quite surprising that the UFC would let Melendez walk away to their biggest rival without putting up much of a fight.

Melendez has the fighting style that the UFC tends to favor. He's an exciting striker who rarely shoots for takedowns or pins guys up against the fence.

He always works for finishes and rarely ever pieces together gameplans designed to eek out rounds with points on the judge's scorecards.

Melendez is also coming off one of the most exciting fights of the year, an epic three-round brawl with Diego Sanchez.

It will be interesting to see what UFC President Dana White has to say about Melendez signing with Bellator.

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