Gilbert Melendez has agreed to re-sign with the UFC and will coach the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, the organization announced late Sunday evening.
Melendez and Pettis will then fight for the UFC 155-pound title later on in the year, according to a company statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TUF 20, will begin filming in May and premiere on FOX Sports 1 on Sept. 10. The season will feature fighters from the UFC's new female strawweight division. The season winner will be crowned as the inaugural UFC 115-pound champion.
Carla Esparza, who comes into TUF 20 as the Invicta FC strawweight champion, said in December that she would like to see Melendez coach the upcoming season. Little did she know she would get her wish before Sunday's announcement.
“I like Gilbert Melendez,” she told MMAWeekly.com last year, when asked who she would like to be coached by on the upcoming reality show. “I think he would be a good coach. I love watching him fight and I like his style.”
Melendez and the UFC hit a rough patch in contract negotiations recently, which prompted UFC President Dana White to say that the fighter should go seek offers elsewhere.
Subsequent to White's comments, Bellator MMA and Melendez agreed on a structure to a deal, but the UFC had a offer-matching period to which they were entitled. The offer was matched prior to Sunday's announcement.
A date and venue for the Pettis-Melendez title fight were not announced.
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