Anthony Pettis to defend UFC title against Gilbert Melendez at year-end show

Anthony Pettis (left) meets Gilbert Melendez at the UFC's big year-end show.

Josh Hedges

Anthony Pettis is getting the big star treatment.

The UFC lightweight champion will defend his title against Gilbert Melendez at the UFC’s year-end show in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White announced Wednesday at a press conference in Puerto Rico. The event, typically the organization’s biggest of the year, is expected to be held Dec. 27 in Las Vegas. The news was reported by Puerto Rican newspaper Primero Hora.

Pettis and his brother Sergio, also a UFC fighter, joined White at the press conference Wednesday. White also guaranteed that Pettis will fight at an event in Puerto Rico in 2015. Pettis, 27, is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent.

Pettis (17-2) has not fought since beating Benson Henderson for the title at UFC 164 back in August. The Milwaukee native was supposed to defend his belt against Josh Thomson in December, but pulled out with a PCL tear that progressively got worse. He got surgery and was targeted to come back over the summer.

That might have actually happened if Melendez (22-3) had not earned a coveted spot coaching opposite Pettis on The Ultimate Fighter 20.

Melendez, who was a free agent following his win over Diego Sanchez in October at UFC 166, agreed to terms with Bellator in February. The UFC still had matching rights and a week later Melendez re-signed with the UFC, earning a title shot against Pettis and the TUF coaching gig.

TUF 20, which will be the first season to ever feature all female fighters (115 pounders), starts filming in May. The show will air beginning Sept. 10 on FOX Sports 1. And now we know when the two coaches will fight, too.