UFC severs ties with ex-title contender Melendez

MMA news

The UFC has released former lightweight title challenger Gilbert Melendez from his exclusive contract, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.

Melendez (22-8), who was once in consideration as the best 155-pound fighter on the planet, exits the promotion on a five-fight skid. FightBookMMA first reported his release.

Melendez, 37, was not immediately available for comment.

Fighting out of San Francisco, Melendez joined the UFC in 2013 as a Strikeforce champion. He fought Benson Henderson for the UFC’s 155-pound title in his promotional debut, and lost a razor-thin split decision. He rebounded with a thrilling decision win over Diego Sanchez six months later, but would fail to win another bout in the UFC.

His losses in the Octagon have come against top level competition, including former champions in Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez. He dropped to featherweight in 2017, where he suffered defeats to Jeremy Stephens and rising prospect Arnold Allen.

Melendez, who works as an MMA analyst for ESPN, took a two-year break between 2017 and 2019. He has not yet commented on his fighting future.

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