USA TODAY Sports/Mike Bohn MMAMania

Former UFC 155-pound title challenger Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez will share the cage in a lightweight bout this October at UFC 166 in Houston, Texas.

The fight was rumored to be in the works for sometime before the end of 2013, and now it has an official date and location. Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez will collide in one of the featured bouts at UFC 166 on Oct. 19, 2013 in Houston, Texas.

MMA Junkie reported news of the match up on Thursday (July 4, 2013); however, UFC officials have yet to confirm the 155-pound affair.

Melendez (21-3) is coming off a razor-thin and controversial split decision loss to lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson in his UFC debut last April in a fight that left a bad taste in the mouth of “El Nino.”

Entering the Octagon for the first time as the final champion of the now-defunct Strikeforce organization, Melendez was counted out by many, but his performance against “Smooth” impressed the mixed martial arts (MMA) community and proved that maybe the Cesar Gracie trained fighter has actually been the division’s top dog for all these years.

After the major letdown in his UFC debut, the 31-year-old will look to register his first UFC victory against one of the organization’s longest tenured fighters.

Sanchez (24-5) has been on the sidelines nursing injuries since a debatable split decision win over Takanori Gomi at UFC on FUEL TV 8 in March. The bout marked Sanchez’s return to the lightweight division and despite the controversial nature of it, had his hand raised in a 155-pound fight for the first time since June 2009.

The 31-year-old has only fought twice since the beginning of 2012 and will be hoping that UFC 166 marks the start of a long and healthy run in the division he once earned a title fight with B.J. Penn in.

The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one winner is 3-1 in his past four fights; however, “The Dream” has not finished an opponent in MMA competition since a (technical) knockout win over Luigi Fioravanti in June 2008.

Melendez vs. Sanchez is likely to take place on the main card of UFC 166, which will be available on pay-per-view (PPV) from the Toyota Center in Houston.

UFC 166 is headlined by a heavyweight championship trilogy bout as Cain Velasquez puts his title on the line against Junior dos Santos in what will be the third meeting between the two in less than two years.


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