UFC officials on Thursday added a lightweight bout between the original The Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Sanchez and former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez to the Oct. 19 UFC 166 fight card slated for the Toyota Center in Houston.
The fight joins the previously announced headline rematch between UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
Ever since his split decision victory over Takanori Gomi in March, Sanchez (24-5) has been lobbying for a fight with Nate Diaz, Josh Thomson, or Melendez.
The victory over Gomi was Sanchez’s return to lightweight after a 2-2 stint at welterweight. Adding a victory over Melendez to his win over Gomi would go a long way towards moving Sanchez back into title contention.
Sanchez failed in his one UFC title bid when he challenged then lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 107 in late 2009.
Melendez (21-3) challenged UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 in April, but fell short, losing a split decision in his Octagon debut. Now, like Sanchez, he is looking for the quickest route back to another title shot.
Melendez in May told MMAWeekly.com content partner Knockout Radio that he was willing to fight anybody on the roster, as long as he wasn’t going back to ground zero. He wants to fight someone that will propel him back to a fight against Henderson or whomever holds the belt.
“There’s a lot of good guys. Whoever is hot right now,” said Melendez. “Whoever is the hot dude who is closest to getting that title shot, I’ll take it.”
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- Takanori Gomi