UFC President Dana White was in Puerto Rico this week, and he announced in a press conference on the island that UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis will return to defend his title against Gilbert Melendez for the year end show of 2014. Pettis has been on the shelf since Augst due to a knee injury, and he will be sitting for close to a year and a half when the Lightweight title is defended again. One of the books had a preliminary line set on this fight installing Pettis as the favorite at (-170) with the return on Melendez sitting at (+130).
Interested in betting on the UFC FIGHT NIGHT 39 card coming up this weekend? Or betting any of the other events on the UFC calendar? Look for the lines at BETDSI and open an account now!
For Gilbert Melendez and the Cesar Gracie camp, this is a bit of a do or die situation. Though competing at the highest level, the team has not been able to break through and win UFC gold. Jake Shields failed, Nick and Nate Diaz failed and Melendez failed in his first opportunity at Benson Henderson. This may be the team´s last collective shot at a UFC title, failure means they get lumped in with Team Alpha male, whose Featherweight Featherweight Chad Mendes is in line for the team´s 9th attempt for a UFC title with no wins.
Pettis also has similarities to a lower weight class, but he is starting to remind me of Dominick Cruz, the Bantamweight titleholder who had to giver the title up after nearly three years of injuries kept him from competing.
Pettis´ medical bills must be adding up. Sixteen months between fights is a long time, especially for a young athlete who was at the peak of his popularity and was poised to be a superstar. But he went into the title fight a bit banged up, and he had been cancelling and postponing fights prior to that, including a still talked about bout with Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title.
Now that the match has been made official, it will be interesting to see if Pettis can avoid the fate of Cruz and return to the octagon. Once in the cage, we can see if the injuries have taken their toll.