The Lightweight title fight between Pettis and Melendez was highly anticipated, given the fact that it was announced earlier in the year.
Both fighters also coached the Ultimate Fighter 20, which helped lead to greater fan interest in the fight.
It certainly did not disappoint.
Melendez started out strong, having kept the champion on the backpedal with his grinding style. It was much of the same in the second round but, out of nowhere, Pettis came alive with one of the slickest and quickest submissions in the UFC this year.
With the event now over, we at Fight of the Night have decided to look at the potential next fights for both winner and loser.
Pettis cemented his status as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA today with his submission win over Melendez.
While he didn’t dominate the fight, he was never really under any major threat and his out-of-nowhere finish showed that Pettis is a dangerous man who can strike anytime in the fight.
The victory was the 27-year-old’s first ever title defence, and there is a long line of solid fighters waiting for their shot at the title.
The obvious next fight for Pettis would have to be Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is undefeated in 22 professional MMA fights.
However, Nurmagomedov has not fought since his victory over Rafael dos Anjos in April and was sidelined with a knee injury in July.
If the Russian’s knee is healed up by early next year, though, a fight between Nurmagomedov and Pettis may be able to take around April.
Nurmagomedov may pose a challenge to Pettis in the form of his aggressive grappling. Melendez kept Pettis reasonably quiet during the first round and half of their fight with his close gameplan before he got caught by the champion.
The same may happen to Nurmagomedov, who has faced some solid grapplers in Gleison Tibau and Rafael dos Anjos.
However, Nurmagomedov has gotten some much deserved hype due to his grappling skills and general fighting ability, which makes a Nurmagomedov – Pettis fight an intriguing one to watch.
Another potential fight for Pettis would be Rafael dos Anjos, should he successful in beating Nate Diaz.
The Brazilian is arguably the dark horse of the Lightweight division, having improved drastically since his first UFC fight back in 2008.
He did lose to Nurmagomedov earlier this year, however, which is why Nurmagomedov vs. Pettis makes more sense at this time.
However, Dos Anjos has rebounded from that loss very well, having finished both Jason High and former UFC champion Benson Henderson (the only fighter to have done so by TKO).
Donald Cerrone is also a potential candidate for a title shot should he successful in beating Myles Jury.
Cowboy has gained a reputation as one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC today and currently boasts a 4-fight win streak. His last loss was against Dos Anjos, however, and he also lost to Pettis via first-round stoppage nearly two years ago.
That makes a rematch between Cerrone and Pettis unlikely, at least in the short term future.