UFC releases former lightweight title challenger Gilbert Melendez

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Gilbert Melendez is no longer a member of the UFC roster.

Melendez (22-8 MMA, 1-6 UFC) was released from the promotion following five straight losses. The 37-year-old Melendez confirmed his release with ESPN on Monday night after an initial report by MMA Fighting.

A former Strikeforce lightweight champion, Melendez ran through most of his opposition in the well-regarded promotion. Melendez’s key wins in Strikeforce include Jorge Masvidal, Josh Thomson (twice), Shinya Aoki, and Tatsuya Kawajiri.

Upon the UFC’s purchase and subsequent absorbance of Strikeforce, Melendez was added to the roster. Holding the Strikeforce title at the time, Melendez was granted an immediate title shot at then-lightweight champion Benson Henderson.

In the five-round main event of UFC on FOX 7 in April 2013, Melendez lost a split decision to Henderson. The defeat was highly controversial among MMA fans and media alike.

In his return to the cage at UFC 166 in October 2013, Melendez and Diego Sanchez engaged in an instant classic. A spirited 15 minutes turned in by the two men resulted in a fight many MMA observers believe to be one of the most exciting in the promotion’s history.

After he picked up his first UFC victory, Melendez earned a second crack at the 155-pound title – this time against then-champ Anthony Pettis in December 2014 at UFC 181. Melendez lost the bout by second-round submission due to guillotine choke.

From 2015-19, Melendez competed four times. In that span, Melendez dropped decisions to Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Jeremy Stephens, and most recently Arnold Allen at UFC 239 in July.

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