Gilbert Melendez, the San Jose-based
Melendez will participate in "The Ultimate Fighter," a reality television series, against champion Anthony Pettis, and then the pair will fight each other later this year, according to the UFC.
The deal was announced Sunday night.
Filming for “TUF” will begin in May, with the show, featuring competitors in the new women’s
strawweight (115-pound) weight class, premiering on
Melendez (22-3) earlier this month struck a multi-fight agreement with the mixed martial
arts fighting organization Bellator, but the UFC had time to extend its own offer that obviously exceeded Bellator's.
Melendez, a former Strikeforce champion, lost a split-decision to former lightweight champion Benson Henderson in April, then beat Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision in October.
Pettis (17-2) took the title from Henderson in August by a first-round submission, but suffered a knee injury that he opted to treat in November with knee surgery.
Pettis attended Saturday night's UFC 170 event in Las Vegas, when Ronda Rousey scored a first-round technical knockout of Sara McMann at Mandalay Bay.