One of the most anticipated fights of 2014 was announced on Sunday: UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis defending his title against top contender Gilbert Melendez.
Before they fight, the pair will face off as coaches on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. They’ll coach 16 female strawweight fighters in a tournament to crown the first-ever UFC strawweight champion.
Keeping with tradition, the show will be filmed in Las Vegas this summer, then debut in September on Fox Sports 1. With the show beginning in September, it likely means Pettis and Melendez will not face off until late November or December.
But it’s never too early to start analyzing betting odds and we now have the opening line: Pettis clocks in as the -180 favorite, with Melendez on the other side as a +150 underdog.
Oddsmaker Nick Kalikas announced the opening lines on Monday.
Along with the TUF 20 announcement came the news that the UFC had decided to match an offer for Melendez from rival promotion Bellator. The former Strikeforce champion received an unprecedented contract, according to MMAFighting.com. At least 75% of his fights must appear on pay-per-view main cards, and he’ll receive a share of the pay-per-view profits no matter where he appears on the card.
In addition, his share of the pay-per-view kicks in at a much lower buyrate than any other fighter has ever received. In short, Melendez is banking with his new deal. And while he’s currently the underdog to Pettis, I fully expect that line to change drastically by the time the fight rolls around.