Gilbert Melendez agrees with Bellator

Updated: February 14, 2014, 11:25 PM ET
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

Former Strikeforce lightweight champion and UFC No. 2 contender Gilbert Melendez has agreed to a multiyear deal structure with Bellator MMA.

Melendez (22-3) is not officially signed to Bellator yet, as the UFC owns matching rights on the offer. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told ESPN.com that he was not yet familiar with the details of the deal.

Melendez confirmed the news via his Twitter account Friday.

"As soon as I was a free agent, I had my team call Bellator, and [CEO Bjorn Rebney] made an amazing offer that would allow me to reach my goals," Melendez wrote.

"If the UFC wants me they have the right to match. Ill let the fans know more as soon as it's settled."

Melendez entered the UFC's 155-pound division last year. He fought Ben Henderson for the title in April and lost a close split decision. In October, he was involved in one of the best fights of the year, against Diego Sanchez.

Earlier in the week, UFC president Dana White told reporters that he was "done" negotiating with Melendez, after months of negotiations, and that Fertitta would handle it alone moving forward.

"I like Gilbert Melendez. I have absolutely no problem with Gilbert Melendez whatsoever," White said. "He's a great kid, smart, talented fighter.

"It's not about him, but let me remove myself from that. I'm over it. Lorenzo is dealing with that, not me."

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