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The return of one of the best lightweights of this era will take place on July 23, with former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez taking on No. 6-ranked Edson Barboza at United Center in Chicago.
It is the first appearance of “El Nino” since a split decision loss to Eddie Alvarez in June of 2015, and he will have a tough assignment in Barboza, who recently scored the biggest win of his career when he defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 197 last month.
The FOX-televised bout was announced Wednesday by the UFC’s Megan Olivi on FOX Sports 1’s “UFC Tonight”.
Olivi also revealed another intriguing bout in the works for the Chicago card, an anticipated light heavyweight showdown between the No. 2-ranked Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and third-ranked Glover Teixeira. Brazil’s Teixeira suggested the bout after his April knockout of Rashad Evans, and it appears that Johnson is on board as well as he waits for the result of the UFC 200 meeting between 205-pound champion Daniel Cormier and interim titlist Jon Jones.
In other news tidbits, Olivi reported that UFC 201 looks to be heading to Atlanta on July 30, with Robbie Lawler targeted to defend his welterweight title against No. 3-ranked contender Tyron Woodley in the main event.
Plus, the next fight of two former world champions are close to being finalized, with the upcoming opponent of TJ Dillashaw possibly being a familiar one in old rival Raphael Assuncao in a bout the promotion hopes to put on the UFC 200 card on July 9, and Holly Holm possibly returning in the main event of the aforementioned UFC on FOX card in Chicago against Valentina Shevchenko on July 23.
Finally, a week from Saturday, the UFC visits Curitiba, Brazil for the first time, and Olivi reports that the UFC is expecting more than 20,000 fans for the weigh-in on Friday, May 13, the day before a host of Brazilian superstars take to the Octagon for UFC 198.