Melendez gets shot at Pettis' lightweight belt

Melendez gets shot at Pettis' lightweight belt
February 23, 2014, 9:30 pm

San Francisco-based UFC lightweight Gilbert Melendez will get a title shot against Anthony Pettis later this year. (USATSI)

Anthony Garcia

Not only is San Francisco-based UFC lightweight Gilbert Melendez staying in the UFC, he's getting a title shot.

The UFC announced Sunday night that Melendez and lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will be opposing coaches on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. The show will begin filming in May and start airing in September. The two will then fight for the belt later this year.

Melendez, the former Strikeforce and WEC lightweight champion, announced last week that he was leaving UFC for rival MMA promotion Bellator on a multi-year deal. The UFC had an opportunity to match, and it appears they have.

Melendez (22-3), fought for the UFC lightweight title in his UFC debut last April in San Jose, falling to then-champion Benson Henderson by split decision. Later in October, 'El Nino' won a unanimous decision over Diego Sanchez in a contest that many MMA pundits considered Match of the Year.

The upcoming title fight will be the first defense for Pettis (19-2). 'Showtime' defeated Henderson by 1st-round submission to win the 155-lb title in August.