A major standoff between Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and UFC President Dana White is currently underway, and depending on the outcome, several top UFC stars may jump ship to Bellator Fighting Championships.
Bellator announced on Friday in a press release that it had come to terms on a contract with UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez. After the announcement, Gracie took to Twitter (h/t MMAFighting) to issue a stern warning to the UFC.
The original post appears to have been taken down, but he basically warned White that Melendez “won’t be punked.” According to Gracie, Melendez won’t be the only fighter from the team seeking greener pastures, and if the UFC isn’t careful, others are prepared to sever ties with the world’s leading MMA promotion to join Bellator.
The ripple effect from White’s comments during Wednesday’s episode of UFC Tonight is being felt throughout the Gracie academy. When talking about the contract situation for Melendez, White admitted that negotiations had soured. He said he was done, and Melendez should start “looking elsewhere:”
If he wants to fight in the UFC, he better talk to [UFC co-owner] Lorenzo Fertitta quick. I’m done. It’s not going well at this point. I like Gilbert Melendez very much, but I don’t like his management. ... He better start looking elsewhere.
The Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academy is known as the home of the “Skrap Pack,” which houses UFC stars Melendez, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz and Jake Shields. This situation could be perceived as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
There is certainly no love lost between White and Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
In January, Nate Diaz posted on Twitter that the UFC was “full of s--t” after White accused him of turning down a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The ongoing issues between the UFC and Nick Diaz, who has missed multiple scheduled press conferences and an open workout, are well-documented.
In March 2013 at the UFC 158 press conference, White blamed Gracie for all of the pre-fight shenanigans involving Nick. He called the manager/coach a “d--k” and a “huge part of the problem.” In other words, there is enough in-house drama here to propel a two-hour segment of The Jerry Springer Show.
Stay tuned to Bleacher Report as more news becomes available in this developing story.