Gilbert Melendez will make the drop to featherweight after a year off.
It looks like El Nino will be making his return to the cage, but it will be at 145 pounds. The former Strikeforce lightweight champion and UFC title challenger will make a long-awaited drop to featherweight to meet Jeremy Stephens at UFC 215 in Edmonton. Veteran MMA reporter Damon Martin broke the news on Twitter:
BREAKING: Jeremy Stephens vs. Gilbert Melendez at featherweight in the works for UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Sept 9. #UFC
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) July 3, 2017
Melendez had hinted at the news on Twitter a couple of days ago:
Fight news coming soon. El Niño is back!
— Gilbert Melendez (@GilbertMelendez) July 1, 2017
Melendez (22-6, 1-4 UFC) has faced very stiff competition in his UFC career, picking up just one win over Diego Sanchez in 2013. A PED suspension and three losses in a row necessitated a change for the 35-year-old, who has talked for years about fighting at 145.
Stephens (25-14, 12-13 UFC) is coming off a split decision loss to Renato Moicano at a UFC on Fox event in April. He is 5-5 in 10 bouts since dropping to featherweight himself, and is currently ranked at number eight in the official UFC rankings.
UFC 215 goes down September 9th in Edmonton. The only other bouts announced for the card so far are a heavyweight bout between Junior dos Santos and Francis Ngannou, and a light heavyweight fight between Ilir Latifi and Tyson Pedro.