Gilbert Melendez Agrees to Multi-Fight Deal with Bellator MMA; Will UFC Match the Offer?

February 14, 2014
94 Comments

Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal at StrikeforceThe UFC and Gilbert Melendez have been at odds over a new contract for the lightweight fighter ever since he fulfilled his initial contract by defeating Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 in October.

Negotiations devolved to the point where company president Dana White told UFC Tonight earlier this week, “I’m done. It’s not going well at this point. I like Gilbert Melendez very much, but I don’t like his management.”

Melendez is managed by Rodolphe Beaulieu, who also represents former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

White went on to say that if Melendez wants to fight in the UFC that he should contact Lorenzo Fertitta immediately, but he might also want to start considering fighting elsewhere.

It appears that Melendez took White’s words to heart.

Bellator MMA on Friday issued a statement saying it had “agreed to a multi-fight, multi-year deal structure” with Melendez to pit him against the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Will Brooks, Dave Jansen, and Bellator’s other lightweights.

“The moment Gil was legally able to explore the free agent market, Gil’s management team reached out to me and we began figuring out how to bring Gil to Bellator,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney.

“It’s no secret that I’ve been a big ‘El Nino’ fan for many years. Gil was one of the first fighters I tried to sign when I launched Bellator back in 2008, and he’s grown and developed into one of the best and most exciting lightweights on earth.  Gil has a vision for what he wants to accomplish both inside and outside the cage and we can help make his vision a reality.  We are in the business of developing and showcasing the greatest fighters on earth. That’s what we intend to do here with Gil and it’s what we’ll continue to do in the future.”

Bellator admitted that the UFC currently holds matching rights on Melendez, so it is not yet a done deal that he’ll be exiting the Octagon.

Although in lieu of White’s recent comments and his heavy criticism of Bellator when they refused to let Eddie Alvarez walk away during his matching period with them, it seems that he’s prepared to let Melendez leave.

“As soon as I was a free agent, I had my team call Bellator, and Bjorn made an amazing offer that would allow me to reach my goals. It’s an opportunity to be a part of something special and I could make history testing myself against some of the toughest lightweights in the world,” Melendez tweeted on Friday, before adding, “If the UFC wants me, they have the right to match. I’ll let the fans know more as soon as it’s settled.”

UFC officials declined comment when contacted by MMAWeekly.com at the time of publication.

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  • bajafox

    The fighters are starting to realize they have more power than they thought. I was expecting Gilbert to cave, good for him. Take the money

    • carsti07 .

      Take the money, but don´t tell:I could make history testing myself against some of the toughest lightweights in the world. that´s ridiculous, after he fights Chandler, Alvarez he can sit and wait and fight who?

      • bajafox

        You might not believe me but not every fighter wants the belt. Some actually only care about getting paid. Do you think every NBA, MLB and NFL player only has a championship on their mind and not a lucrative contract?

        • mmalive

          You hit the NAIL right there man with that statement. Money is FOREMOST with a lot of athletes now. Providing and feeding family.

          • carsti07 .

            And everybody understands, so why trying to sell this as a historical change of mma history? I would loved if he´d said:”Bellator was nice and respectful to me and I taking the opportunity to make more money than DW wanted to give me”, would be like a right uppercut against DW

        • carsti07 .

          Bla, bla; it´s about pretending to MAKE HISTORY :) , IN BELLATOR, LOL
          It´s absolutely alright to use the short time to make enough money, just don´t try to act historical/political = hypocritical :)

          • bajafox

            Doug Flutie was in the CFL before he got a ring with the Patriots. I fail to see your point

          • carsti07 .

            OK, maybe u get it like this easier: to say you´re want the gold medal in sochi, but in reality will play in some 2. league, and everybody will agree, if a guy don´t fight the best of the ufc (Askren), we will never how good he really is. To say he wants to make history there is a joke.
            I´m very happy for him getting good money, I/everybody likes him, so I was a bit disappointed about the “history comment”, that´s all :) ; how is s.o. not get that ???

          • bajafox

            There’s a female Olympic skater that was on food stamps and started a Kickstarter campaign just to get there. Great for her.

            Others would rather make $1M a year and not have a gold metal.

            Again, what’s your point?

          • carsti07 .

            Did she say she wanted to make history? Again for slow starter: makin money is good, nothing to be ashamed, to say you want make history on food stamps or Bellator is ridiculous_ get it?

          • bajafox

            If your English and grammar was better than a 5th grade level I might have a better chance of getting it. My apologies, I haven’t gone full retard

          • carsti07 .

            That´s alright, life is like mma, and you´re just a boxer:) I speak perfect German, and my French and Korean is nearly as good as English, so thank you to try :)

          • bajafox

            Quer fumar um baziado gordo?

            Quieres fumar un toke?

            Wanna smoke a joint?

            Parle vous Francais?

            What does speaking several languages have to do with intelligence?

          • carsti07 .

            It´s parleZ, and come down man, you´re smart and properly a nice guy, seriously. I did not want to offend Melendez, just shared my opinion, that the “history” comment was off the charge. So peace, we all love mma- tought me to try to respect anybody and I think you´ve been pisses because u thought I´m offending Melendez, your attitude is alright bro

          • MuayThaiFood

            Oh nice, you discovered Google translate!

          • carsti07 .

            funny you finally found the translator app :)
            and it´s parleZ dickhead

          • bajafox

            I’m fluent im proper English, Spanish and learning French and Portuguese is a hobby. Have a nice day being stupid

          • carsti07 .

            Why the hell could you not even say the same then in French? If that’s to hard for you- good luck stupid ;)

          • carsti07 .

            if that would be true, you would be able to put “Wanna smoke a joint?” in the French Google translator,- hahaha you´re so pitiable…

      • Bellator sucks.

        He won’t get to fight Alvarez cause his contract is up win or lose after his rematch withe chandler. He becomes unrestricted I’m pretty sure. It was part of the contract. He will be in the UFC. So Gil and Chandler will fight over and over.

        • bajafox

          If you ask Dodson where his belts are he’ll tell you he won’t know. The only thing he cares about is feeding his family. You all seem to be affixiated on the belts. GSP left because the money wasn’t worth the belt. We can all criticize that but we will never know it’s like

          • shakejunt

            gsp left because he knows he lost. winners don’t really go on hiatus, they retire.

  • Timothy Malone

    If you want to make money in Bellator good for you, but don’t lie about it and say things like “I could make history testing myself against some of the toughest lightweights in the world.” You can make more money but that’s it. People are not going to consider you the best, just like they didn’t in Strikeforce. The best fighters are in the UFC, and if you were capable of becoming the champion and keeping the belt then you would make more money there then you ever would in Bellator. You probably can’t.

    • J.D.C.D.

      Good call there on the “I could make history testing myself against some of the toughest lightweights in the world.” BS. I saw that and thought of Gilbert a little less. If he wanted to fight toughest competition why didn’t he sign to fight Nurmagamedov if he wanted to fight some tough lightweights? He wants $$$ and I honestly don’t blame him. I saw the Bubba McDaniel paycheck thread and just thought to myself all that training and that is all you got? All those hours in the gym and work for so little? Then your points about their place in the card etc made sense. It can really be rough to be fighter..

    • Mark McDowall

      Couldn’t agree with you more!! Which is why people saying Melendez was one of the top LW’s in the world…when he had only fought 1 top 10 ranked LW in StrikeForce was a joke.

      You don’t get sent to the minors and say your going to play the best players in baseball while your down there….take the Diaz’s with your too!! Ceaser Gracie has been spouting off all day on Twitter about how they wont screw Gil…and if they do he will take his whole camp with him. Good…go…the Diaz’s are nothing but headaches for the UFC anyways.

    • mmalive

      Tim, You are a CLOWN man. Gil, Josh Thompson , Eddie, Chandler are some some of THE BEST outside of UFC. Do not BE SURPRISED to see Josh joining the team over in Bellator,

      BTW, Gil will be testing his skill over in Bellator. Do not forget he got ROBBED against Henderson.

      • Bellator sucks.

        Why would Josh go to Bellator when in Dana’s opinion he won his last fight? He will only need to win one more big fight to get another title shot. Your an idiot @mmalive. And Eddie is going to the UFC after his trilogy is done with chandler. He sign a 2 fight deal then become a unrestricted free agent.

        • George Sperry

          When someone says your an idiot I just laugh and laugh and laugh.

  • richard

    let him walk he hasn’t shown us nothing. garbage……….

    • Maddawgmar

      Is that you Pettis? You afraid, bro?

    • deepgrim

      he has been in 2 fights in the ufc, one where he arguabally beat the champion and imo did, and the other was a serious contender for fight of the year. how much more can you expect in 2 fights

  • Manuel Lopez

    Pay the man UFC. Anyone that bashes Gilbert here is ignorant and knows NOTHING of mma. Gilbert Melendez always brings it 100% of the time in ALL his fights, he is a fierce competitor, always game, former Strikeforce champ, classy, eloquent and respectful. DW is f&&&ing up his own company! He is a vulgar, counterproductive ahole that needs to step away from tv sport for a while. He is burned out and losing Gil would be a huge loss. I don’t expect Fox would be happy about this. This is not what they expected when they got in business with UFC. They are supposed to have the best fighters in the world but you gotta PAY UP THe TALENT! It’s tough out there and UFC is making millions and then pay their fighters chump change. Anyone who sides with UFC on this one is an idiot.

  • Timothy Malone

    Let’s talk the ugly truth about fighter pay and the fans’ role in it. Alot of the people who say fighters don’t get paid enough are the same people who say the UFC “waters down cards” with fighters “nobody wants to watch.” You have to realize how these statements relate. A fighter is only worth how much they can bring in. Prelim fighters get paid crap money because most of you fans won’t even bother showing up on time to watch them on the live card. Every time fighter pay is brought up you have to think about this. Take this specific example:

    A UFC card headlined by Melendez would be considered an average UFC card.

    A Bellator card headlined by Melendez would be considered an awesome Bellator card.

    Therefore Bellator is willing to pay more. They aren’t more fair, it’s just how business works. They still pay their undercard guys as little or less as the UFC because unfortunately most of you don’t care to ever watch them fight.

    So always keep in mind, if you won’t pay more to see them fight, why should the UFC pay more to make them fight?

    • OnDa Brink III

      Damn, you hit the nail in the coffin!!! Great statement and very true.

    • Joe

      That’s the best post on fighter pay I’ve ever read. The sport has evolved and there is good money to be made by fighters, but when the market paid $2000 to show and $2000 to win the fighters gladly took that while working as a firefighter, teacher, home depot cashier, etc… And training in the side. The ufc paid more to their fighters then than anyone else and they still do. The only org to pay more than the ufc was pride and the end result was they put themselves out if business and was forced to sell to the ufc.

    • tomorrowclear

      At no point in this process did Dana White or the Fertittas calculate “how much money Melendez brings in.” That’s impossible. How precisely could one do that on a card with multiple fights in which viewers may or may not be tuning in to watch Melendez? Perhaps none of them tuned in to watch him, perhaps all of them did.

      His offer was based off of what was paid to another comparable fighter which was, itself, based upon the contract of another fighter, and so on. Ultimately, if we went back far enough, we would have an original, largely arbitrary contract offer to a fighter that served as the initial standard.

      (This whole assertion, by the way, is consistently used to rationalize absurd, bloated CEO salaries. Unfortunately, we now have empirical data to confirm no correlation between higher CEO pay and company performance.)

      I think the bulk of these fighters should be better compensated, but to base it on how much money an individual fighter brings in is an absurd standard that cannot be measured except in very limited circumstances.

      • Timothy Malone

        What you are writing doesn’t make alot of sense. What do you mean a “comparable fighter?” If by comparable fighter you mean in terms of star power then you are just repeating what I said. Or do you mean a fighter with a similar record?

        Brock Lesnar got paid $250,000 for his first UFC fight. What comparable 1-0 fighter was this contract based off of?

        Lesnar got paid ridiculous amounts of money while having no MMA experience because he put butts in seats and eyes on TVs. That really is what it is about.

        No they can’t literally figure out the exact amount Melendez brings them, but there is a relativity to other UFC fighters in terms of where they could place him on a card, what kind of card that would be (PPV, Fox, FS1, etc) and what kind of viewership that would get them. It’s not like its a coincidence that if you look at at the salaries of fighters on a PPV card the amounts will generally get smaller as you go down the billing.

        Melendez last fought in the third spot on a PPV card, which is good, but in Bellator he would be one of the few that can headline a PPV event. Therefore they are willing to pay alot to try to get him.

        • tomorrowclear

          A comparable fighter being someone they tout with a similar record.

          If you want to know what probably established the precedent for freak fighters like Lesnar, it was probably the Rickson-Funaki Colosseum fight in 2000 where Rickson was rumored to have been paid $1 million.

          “Star power” is what Dana White and his cronies decide to bestow upon a particular fighter. Anyone who thinks it is mostly fan-driven is hopelessly naive. There are any number of fighters who are fan favorites who the oligarchs choose not to tout, for various reasons. And with those fan favorites who are not placed on the tops of cards, Dana White can just say he’s not worth the money. Doesn’t puts asses in the seats or PPV buys. It’s the guy at the top of the card, you see, who’s putting asses in the seats and drawing PPV buys.

          Or would you dispute that Dana is prone to cutting loose or not paying sufficiently guys who are popular with fans but for various reasons draw the ire of Uncle Fester?

  • CoffeeAndBeer

    Bravo…

  • fsunoles10

    im getting to the point where i dont like dana handles the fighters but id be highly disappointed if they dont match. they only have 2 fights for him there while the ufc has many good fights they can make with him. i would like wsof to build a nice roster though so the ufc doesnt have the upper hand in negotiations so often.

  • Just some middle class guy

    I think most professional sports organizations overpay their athletes. It’s pretty sickening that there are athletes that makes tens of millions a year for their ability to throw balls through hoops, hit baseballs, knockout opponents, and make tackles. Athletes are entertainers and should not get paid extremely large amounts of money. This also goes for musicians (the ones that make it), actors/actresses, and whatever else is “entertains” the masses. The UFC pays athletes a reasonable wage.

    • http://www.MMAMELEE.com/ MMA Melee™

      Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman combined made 1.1 million this year. Seattle def had a great deal there considering those guys are prob top 5 in their positions. All matters if your the first to find the talent.

      • Just some middle class guy

        I see your point, but those numbers will be temporary until they sign their next contract. If they continue to perform, then they will one of those that receive ridiculous amounts of money. The link provided is a list of the top 100 paid athletes, according to Forbes.

        http://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/

        For the record, I don’t have a problem with endorsements. I just don’t like the idea of their ridiculously high salaries based on their athletic ability. People put too much importance on entertainers and it annoys me. They get worshiped as gods…

      • uncle

        are you counting endorsements and sponsors They still make more then a UFC fighter off that alone and they will
        have a bigger contract so don’t compare

        • http://www.MMAMELEE.com/ MMA Melee™

          what endorsements and sponsors do they have that you are referring too? And they play 16 games a year if a UFC fighter was fighting 16 times a year they’d surpass that.

          • uncle

            So you don’t think Sherman didn’t
            get endorsed by his rant ?and Wilson has made millions in endrosements Sponsrs Nike Alaska Airlines,etc NFL players
            get paid more then UFC fighters
            its a fact

          • http://www.MMAMELEE.com/ MMA Melee™

            Some NFL players make more than some UFC fighters…correct…Some UFC fighters make more than some NFL players…correct.

    • Robby Clark

      Athletes offer a service (or product) than can be viewed by millions of people. This is why they get paid so well. If Athletes are making a lot, best believe the owners are making more, so I tend to think they’re entitled to whatever they’re getting paid currently or more.

      • Just some middle class guy

        Then using your logic, you have no quarrel with how much the UFC pays their fighters. I agree.

        • Other random guy

          Lol go look at the paydays for these UFC fighters. They dont get millions for knocking people out.

          • Just some middle class guy

            I never mentioned UFC fighters receiving million dollar paydays. I’m sure you have heard of boxing? Boxers knock people out too, you know? The top ranked fighters in boxing receive substantially higher salaries per fight than UFC fighters. So, I was correct in saying that athletes makes millions for knocking people out.

    • BobLemons

      This. The issue is that most athletes are grossly overpaid. Yes, I know how business works and ultimately people will be paid based on how much money they generate. But from an idealistic point of view, refuse collectors would be some of the highest paid members of society.

      It amazes me that people (90% of whom probably earn a pittance) have so much support for guys earning millions for doing something they love. In my line of work, people damage their bodies by doing something they hate for minimum wage, yet the general public (who are mostly in the same boat) never come together to voice their discontent.

      There are so many people in life who are underpaid who deserve my concern, MMA fighters are nowhere near the top of the list. Don’t like your pay for fighting? Get a job in a warehouse of on a building site like the rest of us.

  • http://www.MMAMELEE.com/ MMA Melee™

    They probably offered Gil the same amount Eddie was offered by the UFC that Bellator matched.

  • Maddawgmar

    The difference here is that Bellator wasn’t willing or able to truly match UFC’s offer of Eddie. The UFC is able to match Bellator’s offer, the question is are they willing? This is actually smart business for Gil and UFC. They field other offers from organizations to find out the market for Gil. If only he fielded an offer from WSOF then he might get a better idea of his true value, and that would give greatly improve his negotiations with the UFC.

  • candelario

    he’ll bring more legitimacy to Bellator lightweight division

    • Maddawgmar

      Yeah, now there will be three people fighting each other over and over again.

      • King Of The Spread

        Yea, Bellator smellator

    • Manuel Lopez

      Yes he will, Gil is one of the best MMA fighters in the sport today. UFC is slipping.

  • mmalive

    Uncle Dana dug his grave on this. Gil was offered a GREAT DEAL and he took it. Money is the foundation fighters need to make a living to support family. Hopefully more fighters will follow and jump ship. GREAT JOB UNCLE DANA. 2 thumbs down for sure.

    • Bellatoe sucks.

      Your dumb again @mmalive cause Fertitta will match the deal at the last minute. Unless they feel he isn’t as good as his hype. Which IMO hi isn’t that great. And no one will jump ship. Unless they get the pink slip and have no choice. Two thumbs up your ass for sure!

      • mmalive

        Hey Bellatoe sucks LOSER, Are you one of UNCLE DANAS Puppets? Apparently you have NO KNOWLEDGE of basic Business. Did you go to college guy?
        Anyone with BASIC BRAINS will go where the money is AT.
        Bellatoe sucks, you DO NOT HAVE SIMPLE BRAINS or Educational background to know that.

        BTW, Let’s see what Fertita’s offer is. If Gil DOES NOT resign then we all know where the money is at.

        • shakejunt

          or we’ll know that they don’t value him that highly. gil is used to being big fish in a small pond and ufc simply didn’t get down on their knees for him.

        • Sir_Roy

          Well, his user name did make you say “Bellator Sucks” quite a few times. So I guess if he is working for Dana, his marketing strategy panned out. Also seems to have gotten under your skin quite easily. Forget about entering the Octagon. Even teeny tiny Keyboard battles may prove too much for your blood pressure.

      • mmalive

        Bellatoe sucks LOSER, See if you have ANY GUTS entering a UFC or Bellator making your statement CLOWN ” Two thumbs up your ass for sure!” You have have to be carried out of the cage LOW LIFE!!!

        • shakejunt

          wait, that means he’s wrong?

        • Bellator Sucks.

          I’m sure I would get carried out of the cage. I’ve only trained judo. I’m not a fighter. Lol

  • uncle

    Melendez is ranked higher then fighters, who can beat
    him he should go to Bellator, the Sanchez fight was great but not enough to be sold on, to be the best you
    have to beat the best his wins are over cans and I’m not
    counting Josh because I think he was robbed

    • shakejunt

      gil’s problem is that he has the same complex frankie has and ben has now, he ONLY fights to the level of his competition. nothing more, nothing less. makes for a back and forth fight, but nothing ever happens to indicate a significant win.

      • uncle

        You have good MMA IQ a lot of people think he is the best ,I think he wants to
        go to Bellator to make himself look good
        if he stays in the UFC he will lose, and his stock will go down because the best place to fight is the UFC, I wish he could trade places with Eddie Alvarez

        • shakejunt

          i’m hoping that’s what plays out.

  • Ol’ Rooter

    Gilbert should sigh with One FC. That’s where the money is.

  • Seth

    Go to Viacom if you want to get f***ed over. Didn’t people learn before how Viacom operates? One day you sign deal, other day you are hold hostage because promotion can’t let you go as you are their only big fighter. This time Im rooting for UFC to repay the favor for Alvarez and do something to lock Melendez in UFC, same as VIacom MMA did before with Eddie. That’s called Kharma.

  • Collideoverme

    Sorry, he’s good, but not that big of a loss. Would prefer his whole camp leave and go elsewhere.

  • MATT

    BORING

  • George Sperry

    Take your entire team with you… please.

    • b-soc

      Got to agree there. I’m sick of the Diaz brothers and the ever exciting Jake Shields. Please follow Gil!!!!

  • TheCerealKiller

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Bye Gil!

  • shakejunt

    i can’t help but feel like this was gil’s plan the whole time.
    have a close fight with whoever was champ, leave, and go back to calling out top guys while stuck in another promotion.

  • shakejunt

    grrrrr i hate dana yet i hang on every word he says grrrrrrr

  • One title for all

    I disagree. Look what organizational competition has done to boxing. Multiple champions that refuse to fight each other making any all of their titles less relevant. I like the idea of there being one champ for each class–the UFC should continue to be the only rel game in town. Bellator is a joke.

  • JDMMA

    Good for Gil !!! he wouldn’t be missed : ) Nurmagomedov will be waiting… whenever he decides to come back

  • King Of The Spread

    The UFC light weight division was fin with out him before than it will be fine with out him going forward.

  • horace

    Gibert is Nick Diaz dumb-DUMB

    • Sir_Roy

      And yet you’ve demonstrated time and again herein that their intellect dwarfs yours. And then some.

  • OneFansOpinion

    If the Ufc wants to be considered the organization with the worlds best fighters, they need to keep all top ranked fighters, especially the exciting ones like Melendez. With Alvarez and Chandler, if they get Gill Belator has a good argument for champion vs. champion to truly determine the best

  • horace

    Gilbert knows he cannot win in the UFC so why fight and lose??? Makes good mexican sense-retreat-run-hide-ambush and sneak.

    • Sir_Roy

      Right. Gil lost a very close decision to Henderson who was reigning champ at the time. Many, including myself, feel he won. So losing a razor tight decision, one that could have gone either way, to the #1 lightweight in the UFC means he can’t hang in the UFC? You’re either dumb as stump, or a troll. Probably both.

      • horace

        As Gilbert runs out and away from the UFC to bell bell bell ahor. Gilbert couldn’t cut it in the UFC so Gil runs away. It just happend moron?

        • Sir_Roy

          Another idiot comment. Too much time on the internet does indeed risk robbing one completely of any hope for humanity on a whole.

          Ridiculous rubbish. You cannot possibly believe your own crap. I have to leave believing you are a troll and the stupidity flowing from your keyboard is deliberate. Good day sir.

    • Jacob K

      Way to be racist. What is Mexican sense? Could you enlighten us? How bout you and Gil step Ina cage and you can discuss Mexican sense with him.

    • mmalive

      horace, you are a CLOWN AND RACIST. Gil would run to WHERE MONEY IS AT!!! Any one with logical sense would. Bellator offered GOOD MONEY so Gil went there. If UFC matches then we know where money is at.Unlike a LOSER like you.

  • horace

    Hey Gil stop listening to the Diaz brothers and Tito.

  • Tony Lameo

    Melendez
    is going to be screwed in Bellator. If he goes there, he could nail
    both Eddie Alvarez and Michel Chandler. Then he is going to beat three
    or four second-rate fighters over there. Then later on he might want to
    leave, but he couldn’t. Bjorn Rebney threatens his fighters with a
    lawsuit when they want to leave the organization. That is what happened
    to Alvarez: Rebney put a lawsuit against him when he was about to go to
    the UFC. This is bad business practice of Bellator. Fighters are going
    to be stuck in that organization and never move to other organizations,
    whether it is the UFC or the WSOF. In reality, Dana White and Bjorn
    Rebney really hate each other. Dana White might like a prick as many people thinks, but does not screw around the
    fighters the way Bjorn Rebney does. If a fighter wants to leave, Dana
    White would let him leave. In Bellator, Bjorn force his fighters to stay
    in the organization with lawsuits.

  • horace

    Gilbert and Nick and nate all sitting there smoking a joint and laughing at the UFC and all broke as hell and dumber than a shell.