(Props: Anthony Pettis’s Facebook page)
During a news conference in Puerto Rico* yesterday, UFC president Dana White announced that the Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez lightweight title fight will take place at the promotion’s traditional year-end event, which will likely go down December 27th in Las Vegas. Of course, the two fighters will see a lot of each other before then, as they’ve already been booked to coach TUF 20: The Strawweights, which begins airing in September.
Pettis hasn’t competed since UFC 164 last August, when he won the UFC lightweight belt off of Benson Henderson with a first-round armbar. Due to a subsequent knee injury and surgery, he’s been sidelined ever since — meaning that he’ll be taking on Melendez after a 16-month layoff. Melendez’s layoff will be almost as long. He last competed at UFC 166 in October, winning a unanimous decision against Diego Sanchez in a Fight of the Year candidate. Then, he almost wound up in Bellator. Long story.
* So what was the UFC doing in Puerto Rico, you ask? Well, the promotion is laying some groundwork to return there for the first time since UFC 8 — the February 1996 event where Gary Goodridge famously did this to Paul Herrera. An event date hasn’t been established, but Dana White guaranteed the UFC will hold an event in Puerto Rico in 2015, and said that Pettis (who is of Puerto Rican descent) will be involved.