A lightweight title fight between current champion Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez is currently penciled in for the UFC’s final event of the year in December according to UFC President Dana White.
Pettis is currently out injured with a torn PCL that required surgery, and will then go on to coach TUF 20 opposite Melendez later this year, hence the reason for the long layoff before they finally meet in the Octagon.
By the time they step into the cage it’ll have been almost a year and a half since Pettis last fought, winning the title after submitting Ben Henderson with a first round armbar. The former WEC champion is currently on a four-fight unbeaten stretch in the division and has looked in scintilating form in his most recent fights, though it is a concern that he appears to have become injury-prone.
Melendez will also have been out for 14 months since he reclaimed the No.1 contender spot after emerging victorious from a five round war with Diego Sanchez at UFC 166.
The former Strikeforce champion could have fought again sooner, but he became embroiled in protracted contract negotiations with the UFC over a new deal. At one point that lead to him threatening to leave to take on a lucrative offer from rival promotion Bellator, but he finally came to terms on a new deal to remain in the Octagon which included the added sweetener of coaching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality show versus the champion.
The expected date for this title fight came yesterday as Pettis and his brother Sergio joined Dana White on a promotional tour of Puerto Rico where it was also revealed the UFC wants to hold an event next year.
The current plan is that ‘Showtime’, who has family ties to the region, will also fight there sometime in 2015 with an 18,000 seater stadium having being shown off as a potential venue for the event.