Gilbert Melendez agreed to contract terms with Bellator last week and the UFC has the right to match the material terms of the contract, or allow the lightweight fighter to leave for Bellator.
If Melendez were to end up in Bellator, there are several potential bouts for the former Strikeforce champion and those options could be current Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, and Will Brooks.
Chandler has tweeted that he would be interested in a fight with Melendez and Brooks told “The MMA Report Live” yesterday that he wants to fight Melendez if he ends up in Bellator.
Could Brooks be a leading candidate to face Melendez if he ends up in Bellator? According to Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney, Brooks will be one of the leading candidates to face Melendez, if the UFC does not match the contract offer from Bellator.
“He would sure be one of them,” Rebney told TheMMAReport.com. “There is a short list of guys here at Bellator that make sense for that kind of a fight. Obviously, there is a huge Ed Alvarez fight which I have been talking about for over four years. There is a huge potential fight against Michael Chandler and Will Brooks fits into the equation as well. I applaud Will’s enthusiasm, confidence, and his willingness to put it all on the line to try to go out and get big fights to establish himself as one of the best in the world. He is a dangerous, dangerous fighter.”
Brooks tweeted Rebney recently to tell him that he would be willing to give up his shot at the title to face Melendez. When Brooks stated that he would be willing to give up his title shot, fans began to wonder why he would give up the title shot to face Melendez. Brooks explained that he wants to face the best competition that he can, and he would like to test his skills against Melendez, who is consider one of the top three lightweights in the world.
“My mindset was this is a great opportunity to fight a top ten guy and a talented fighter,” Brooks told TheMMAReport.com. “Again, I only want to compete against the best guys and if we are able to get another ranked guy, we already have Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, who are two of the top lightweights in the division. Those opportunities to fight one of those guys, will be there in the future but to have a guy that is experienced as Gilbert Melendez. To test your skills against a guy like that would just be amazing.”
Rebney applauds Brooks for being willing to step up and be willing to face one of the best lightweight fighters in the world. With his job as Chairman and CEO of Bellator, Rebney knows it’s his job to make the “dreams and visions” of Brooks a reality.
“Will Brooks believes he can beat anybody on earth and you have to love a guy like that because he is willing to give up title shots. He is willing to put it all on the line. He wants the opportunity on a huge stage to face the best of the best. All I can do is applaud a guy like that and hope in relatively in short order, I will be able make those dreams and visions of his a reality. He is an awesome fighter, great personality and his confidence in himself is admirable.”
The UFC has less than three weeks to decide if they will match the offer that Melendez received from Bellator. If the UFC elects to not match the material terms of the contract and Melendez ends up in Bellator, it’s likely that his first fight in Bellator would be announced quickly.