A highly anticipated lightweight title fight between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez has now been ‘tentatively’ confirmed for UFC 181 on December 6th.
It was the champion himself who broke the news, with Pettis stating on The MMA Hour show this past Monday that the event will take place in Las Vegas, though the venue has not yet been announced.
Pettis and Melendez are currently serving as the season coaches on the 20th edition of The Ultimate Fighter reality show which features an all-female cast of strawweight (115lb) fighters.
The 27 year-old Pettis won the title in style back in August of last year via first round armbar submission against Ben Henderson, but he’s yet to defend his belt as he suffered a knee injury which has kept him out of the Octagon for an extended period of time.
He’s now fully recovered though and has started training again, but by the time fight night comes around it will have been 18 months since he last set foot in the Octagon.
Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Melendez hasn’t been overly active himself recently. After narrowly losing out by a controversial split decision to Henderson himself in his UFC debut last year, ‘El Nino’ has only had one more fight, a five round dismantling of Diego Sanchez back in October of last year.
A protracted contract renegotiation, which at one point saw him consider a deal from rival promotion Bellator before finally accepting a lucrative deal with the UFC, kept Melendez from the cage for a while, as has filming TUF 20, so like Pettis he’ll no doubt be champing at the bit to finally let his fists fly come December 6th.
So far Pettis Vs Melendez is the only fight confirmed for UFC 181, though UFC president Dana White did suggest in the past week that if he is able to strike a deal to bring Gina Carano to the promotion then a title fight between her and current woman’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey would likely take place in December.