Rebney: We're going after everybody, more and more


Gil Melendez was a key fighter in Strikeforce's plan to challenge the UFC. Thus, by Dave Meltzer's calculations, he had a higher base pay in Strikeforce than did any UFC lightweight at the time. When the UFC purchased Strikeforce in 2011, the show/win figures on the existing contracts transferred to the UFC.

Melendez received $175,000 in show money vs. Benson Henderson, and presumably a higher figure still for his wild fight with Diego Sanchez in October. That was the final fight on his contract, and when it came time to negotiate a new one, Melendez and UFC president Dana White could not come to terms.

Bellator stepped in and offered Melendez a contract he found acceptable. The UFC now must agree to match the terms, or see one of their top lightweights switch promotions.

Although Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson signed with Bellator, Rampage had one win his last four fights, and Ortiz has one win his last nine fights.

By contrast, Melendez had only one loss his past nine fights, and that was a razor thin to then UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. This is a big deal.

In an interview with MMAFighting's Dave Meltzer, Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney said he is in interviews with other top talent as well.

"Some of them you'd know by first name alone, and some are guys you've never heard of who will become the next Michael Chandler, Daniel Straus, Eddie Alvarez and Eduardo Dantas," said Rebney.

"We're going to continue to sign the best fighters, whether they are from a favela in Brazil, the frozen tundra of Siberia, or they are fighting in the UFC. That's the mission. The fighters are the ones fueling pay-per-view buys or fueling cable television ratings. You're not fueling ratings by promoting Bjorn or Bellator. Promoting the fighters should be first and foremost.

"We're going after everybody, more-and-more often. I think there's a bigger picture issue. The biggest thing is there are two major players in MMA. It's far and away better for the fighters. When a fighter has one option, he has no power at the negotiating table. But when he has two options, the fighter has all the negotiating power. That's actually counter intuitive, coming from the CEO of a fight company. But that's the truth.  And my checkbook may take a shot because of it. But if the fighters can earn what they feel they deserve, overall we and the sport will be in a better place. You're going to see much more of this as we move forward, guys coming from the smallest regions where we find undiscovered talent, to the superstars from the UFC and other guys we find in the United States."

"(Melendez's contract) includes on-air opportunities, entertainment opportunities behind-the-scenes, some marketing opportunities, really, the whole genesis is Gil-specific. The key to the deal is building the Gilbert Melendez brand, not the Bellator brand or the Bjorn Rebney brand. The fighter's brand is what's important. The focus was on talking to Gil and his team. How do we leverage all the different resources to build the `El Nino' brand, and that's what got us all on the same side of the table to put this structure together."

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tags: UFC   Bellator   Bjorn Rebney   Gil Melendez   


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Recent Comments »

slickmma site profile image  

2/18/14 10:29 AM by slickmma

Me thinks they are trying to beef up the portfolio for a near future sale.

Dougie site profile image  

2/18/14 10:05 AM by Dougie

Except that if UFC wants to buy out Bellator from Viacom, they better bring a bigger cheque book. Viacom will sell, they are a business to make money but they know what their product is and won't take a loss, they'll be looking to make money. So if you thought Pride/Strikeforce or others might have been expensive purchases, well...

Sir Psycho Sexy site profile image  

2/18/14 5:42 AM by Sir Psycho Sexy

I really hope Bellator starts swiping some big names from the UFC. They've got the money, let's hope they actually do make some big plays. It would be awesome to get some good competition over there. Mma really needs it.

ssj site profile image  

2/18/14 5:25 AM by ssj

TTT for BellatorMMA

I_Know_ThugFu site profile image  

2/18/14 4:46 AM by I_Know_ThugFu

Agreed. Bjorn is playing the game since Dana has been acting the way he has. Bjorn may have some great words but Bellator is backed by Viacom w/ hungry shareholders and all they care about are profits. Yes, it's nice to hear about fighters like Gil getting what they deserve. This summer a new Transformers movie released by Paramount, a Viacom company is coming out and that has potential to do $1 bil plus at the box office alone. If Bellator isn't making any money in the foreseeable future, then it's goodbye. IMHO: Gil talking w/ them has actually bought Bjoen some breathing time from a clock is that ticking fast from Viacom.

Vincanni site profile image  

2/18/14 1:28 AM by Vincanni

I wonder how many Gilbert Melendez fights you could pay for with the cash Dana's making per year?

Doem site profile image  

2/17/14 11:31 PM by Doem

its what the ufc needed for sure. The public couldnt trust MMA at the time. Dana was the in-your-face- likeable, tell you like it is and risk it all, personalities the UFC needed to get over with the average viewer. They needed to promote the company over the fighter just like the NFL promotes the NFL or the NBA promotes the NBA. They wouldnt have gotten where they are today with a quite, respectful, guy like corker back then.

MMA Lives Here site profile image  

2/17/14 11:15 PM by MMA Lives Here

Bjorn just regurgitated every little point you guys want to hear.Translation - we're trying to muddy the UFC brand and build our own whatever the cost

GayGuardMooseSaucy site profile image  

2/17/14 11:07 PM by GayGuardMooseSaucy

Then other guys will walk. The UFC aura bullshit is gone IMO, guys will start going to Bellator if there's money, opportunity, and competition there. That's how Strikeforce evolved into competition the UFC wanted to get rid of

xsrg95 site profile image  

2/17/14 10:53 PM by xsrg95

ha it would be awesome to see GSP fight in bellator