Anthony Pettis will square off with Gilbert Melendez at the end of the year. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Anthony Pettis’ next lightweight title defense will take place at the UFC’s final event of 2014.
According to Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora, UFC President Dana White announced the news during a Wednesday press conference in Puerto Rico. White also reportedly stated that “Showtime” would return to Puerto Rico to compete in 2015.
Pettis, who also attended the press conference, will put his lightweight gold on the line against former Strikeforce ruler Gilbert Melendez after the two go head-to-head as coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter.” No official date or venue has been announced for the UFC’s year-end show, but it is expected to take place on Dec. 27, the final Saturday of 2014.
Pettis, 27, is currently healing from a knee injury that he sustained in his title-winning performance against Benson Henderson last August. The Roufusport product has won eight of his last nine fights, topping Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone in consecutive bouts to earn his shot at the UFC belt.
Like the champion, Melendez has also won eight of his last nine, with his only defeat in that span coming in a hard-fought split decision defeat to Henderson last April. The former Strikeforce king rebounded from the setback, however, outpointing the hard-charging Diego Sanchez this past October at UFC 166.