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Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez booked for December's year-end UFC event in Las Vegas

Originally expected to return in July, UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will now compete in December.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

16 months.

That's how long it will take Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Anthony Pettis to make his first title defense, thanks to an untimely knee injury, which was followed up by a coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 20.

There's a reason Josh Thomson is sick to his stomach.

Pettis (17-2) captured the crown from Ben Henderson at UFC 164 last August and hasn't been heard from since. Melendez (22-3), meanwhile, is coming off his epic "Fight of the Night" against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166, and scored another shot at the strap by threatening to run to Bellator.

Is normal.

No date or venue has been confirmed at this time, but through the process of elimination, we can probably pencil it in for the UFC 182 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Dec. 28, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. That would likely leave us with "Prelims" bouts on FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass.

Puerto Rico's Raul Alzaga brought word of the tentative plans on Wednesday.

That probably won't bother No. 3 ranked TJ Grant, who knows a thing or two about time off. The 155-pound grappling standout has been out of the cage since last May (due to a concussion) and is expected to get back into action this October, with a win positioning him for another crack at the crown.

Or not.

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