UFC Title Challenger Suspended and Released

UFC Octagon

Getty The Octagon prior to the start of the UFC 250 event at UFC APEX on June 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Former UFC title challenger Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez was officially given a two-year suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Monday for an anti-doping violation discovered last year. Melendez, 38, had also been released by the UFC, but the timing of that is under dispute.

USADA released a statement about Melendez in which it confirmed an independent arbitrator had ruled in its favor about the two-year suspension it handed down to Melendez following the fighter’s positive drug test taken on Oct. 16, 2019.

Per USADA, Melendez’s suspension is retroactive to Nov. 1, 2019, which means he’d be cleared to compete again on Nov. 1, 2021.

That is a long time for the 38-year-old veteran MMA fighter to be out of action, especially amongst the fighters in the world’s top MMA promotional company within arguably its deepest and best weight class of 155 pounds.

On top of that, Melendez, who defeated Jorge Masvidal back in 2011 when both competed under the Strikeforce banner, lost his last five UFC fights.

His career might now be over, at least competing against the best fighters in the sport.


Read USADA’s Statement About Gilbert Melendez Below

Per the statement posted on USADA’s website:

Melendez, 38, tested positive for GHRP-6 and its metabolites GHRP-6(2-5)-OH and GHRP-6(2-6)-OH as the result of a urine sample collected out-of-competition on October 16, 2019. GHRP-6 is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics, and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List.

While Melendez did not contest the presence of GHRP-6 and its metabolites in his sample nor identify a source of the prohibited peptide, he did challenge USADA’s jurisdiction to conduct the test. The arbitrator concluded that USADA did have jurisdiction to both conduct the test and allege an anti-doping policy violation in the event of a positive sample, as was the case.

In addition to his UFC credentials, Melendez is a two-time lightweight champion for Strikeforce and a former WEC lightweight champion.

The veteran UFC star also competed under the PRIDE promotional banner and has compiled a 22-8 record across all promotions.

Now it appears the fighter’s MMA career is in serious jeopardy.

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