Melendez Re-Signs with the UFC, Coaches TUF 20 Opposite Champion Pettis

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2014

Gilbert Melendez speaks at a news conference after losing to Benson Henderson in a UFC lightweight championship mixed martial arts fight in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 20, 2013. Henderson won by split decision to retain the championship. (AP Photo/Thomas Mendoza)
Thomas Mendoza/Associated Press

Last week, it looked like Gilbert Melendez was heading to Bellator. As of Sunday night, Melendez has been re-signed by the UFC and has a busy upcoming schedule.

In a tweet released by UFC president Dana White, it was revealed that not only is Melendez staying with the UFC, but he will be coaching The Ultimate Fighter 20 against current UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. The two will then meet for the lightweight championship when the show concludes, as the coaches usually do.

This is great news for the UFC and fans.

Last week, Melendez had agreed to terms with Bellator in a stunning move that would have taken a top-five lightweight from the UFC. The move was brushed off by Dana White in interviews following that announcement, but now it's understood since the UFC has inked the now title challenger.

TUF 20 is set to feature an all-women cast of strawweights. The tournament will crown the first-ever champion in the newly created division that includes a cast with the likes of Carla Esparza, Joanne Calderwood, Felice Herrig and Tecia Torres.

Both Melendez and Pettis will likely bring great coaching staffs with them to the show. Melendez trains in San Francisco with the Skrap Pack and Cesar Gracie's team, which could allow for not only Gracie to help with the team, but Nick and Nate Diaz, as well as Jake Shields.

As for Pettis, he trains with Roufusport in Milwaukee and has a number of guys he can bring in. From Duke Roufus to UFC fighters such as brother Sergio Pettis and Erik Koch, Pettis should be able to carry a strong staff as well.

The impending fight between Pettis and Melendez will also be huge. Melendez lost a controversial decision for the belt last year against Benson Henderson, but promptly won his sophomore UFC effort against Diego Sanchez to recover and reposition himself in the top end of the division.

As for Pettis, he solidified himself as the top lightweight in the world when he tapped out Henderson with a first-round armbar to take the belt. Since then, he has been on the mend with a knee injury waiting to return.

The show is set to start filming in May, with the fight obviously coming after the show. This is a huge development for the UFC as it gives fans a great fight and prevents a top fighter from walking away from the company.