Mark your calendars, MMA fanboys. UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (pictured) will defend his throne against Gilbert Melendez on December 27 – assuming, of course, the injury bug doesn’t do its thing to Pettis again.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference in Puerto Rico.
Pettis and Melendez will be serving as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 20,” which features the first all-female cast in the reality show’s 20-season domestic run.
Melendez hit the free agent market after October’s instant classic unanimous decision victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC 166. “El Nino” lost to then-lightweight champion Benson Henderson for the title in his long-awaited UFC debut before that.
Because of various injuries, primarily to both knees, Pettis has only fought three times since February 2012. “Showtime” was last seen in August submitting Henderson to capture the crown at UFC 164.
The 27-year-old was slated to defend his strap against Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 10, but withdrew to undergo knee surgery.
The event will most certainly take place inside Mandalay Bay Events Center or larger MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, as the UFC is notorious for hosting major shows on The Strip every New Year’s Eve weekend.
The 155-pound shootout will likely headline the pay-per-view broadcast.