There will be no super fight after all between featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, and the newly crowned lightweight champion, Athony Pettis; as the UFC has announced Pettis will now be coaching opposite of Gilbert Melendez on their reality series, The Ultimate Fighter. This comes as breaking news as reports were surfacing that there was a possibility of Gilbert Melendez leaving the organization for its top competition, Bellator MMA. The Ultimate Fighting Organization and the Stockton, California fighter must have ironed out a new contract to keep the highly touted lightweight fighter in the organization; and setting up him up a fight with the champion of the division. The Ultimate Fighter series will start filming in May and will be making its debut on Fox Sports one in September.
This fight will be Anthony Pettis’ first defense of the lightweight title since he submitted former champion, Benson Henderson, back in August. The UFC lightweight champion has been sidelined ever since with a concussion suffered in training, and nagging knee injuries. Gilbert Melendez on the other hand was sidelined due to contract disagreements between him and the UFC. Melendez made his organization debut losing in his title shot against Henderson, then on his second fight earned fight of the night honors, defeating fellow contender, Diego Sanchez. Melendez then became a free agent and inked a contract with Bellator MMA that the UFC decided to match, details have not been disclosed on the terms of the deal as of yet. This comes as good news to the division as the organization was able to maintain a true asset in the lightweight division, may spark the ratings to a new level on TUF. Both fighters are known for their brash, yet very confident belief in themselves to which may provide a sort of swagger that may ignite some conflict between the two while they coach on the reality series.
The new TUF series will be their first reality series to sport an all women roster on the show. The UFC plans to introduce a new 115 pound strawweight division, the winner of the show will take home a new contract and the first ever strawweight title to be introduced in the company’s history. The new shows roster will be filled with fighters from the Invicta FC promotion. The women’s roster includes Invicta’s strawweight weight champ Carla Esparza, Joanne Calderwood, and Australian Bec Rawlings. among other notable fighters. Melendez will also make a brief appearance in the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” series which is set to debut later in the summer. It seems as the organization is picking up business as they look to include more divisions for the women and broadening its culture to a new extent. The UFC plans to spring-board into the 2014 year; it may have taken almost a few months to get things going; but it seems the engine is churning and the bigger picture of the women’s brand is starting to pick up its pace in the organization.
by Justin Huffman