The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced last night that No. 2 ranked lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez has agreed to a new contract with the organization. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Melendez will now coach against UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. The two will then meet for the UFC lightweight title later this year.
The show, which will begin filming in May and premiere on FOX Sports 1 on Sept. 10, features the launch of the UFC women’s 115-pound weight class. The winner of this season of The Ultimate Fighter will be crowned the UFC strawweight division’s inaugural champion.
The Ultimate Fighter is the longest-running sports reality show on television, with The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia currently airing Wednesdays on FOX Sports 1. The next international edition of The Ultimate Fighter® will feature fighters from Latin America, with the premiere set for summer 2014. Melendez is slated to make a special guest appearance on the show and broadcast plans will be announced in the weeks to come.
This news means that the UFC matched Bellator’s offer to Melendez in a bid to retain the top lightweight.