Injured UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will defend his title against Gilbert Melendez at the 2014 end of the year card after the two coach opposite one another on an upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. Pettis has not fought since winning the belt in August, 2013, against Benson Henderson.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement during a press conference in Puerto Rico Wednesday. Pettis and his younger brother, UFC flyweight Sergio Pettis were also on the island and toured it.
White also said a 2015 event in Puerto Rico, which would be the UFC's first on the island-nation, is being planned and will feature the elder Pettis as a headliner.
Ever since former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez re-signed with the UFC we've known that he would eventually face Pettis for the 155 pound championship, but Wednesday's presser was the first time an approximate date was publicly announced. Melendez is coming off a barn-burner decision win over Diego Sanchez last fall.
Before that, "El Nino" lost a razor-close decision to then-champion Benson Henderson. As for Pettis' eventual Puerto Rico fight, White tweeted a photo of the inside of the 18,000 seat Coliseo de Puerto Rico, configured for a UFC event. Pettis is of Mexicn and Puerto Rican descent. Melendez is of Mexican descent.
The Coliseo de Puerto Rico set up the arena to show us what UFC Puerto Rico will look like pic.twitter.com/ffbDHimfT3
— Dana White (@danawhite) March 26, 2014