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Pettis vs Melendez odds open in UFC

Gilbert Melendez played his hand perfectly, signing with Bellator but knowing the UFC would probably match.

Now he has parlayed a new UFC contract into a coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter and a title shot at 155 pounds against champion Anthony Pettis.

Online sportsbook Bovada opened the former Strikeforce lightweight champion as a +145 underdog against Showtime Pettis. Pettis won the title from Benson Henderson and has been nursing injuries ever since.

Pettis opened at -175 at Bovada for a fight that won’t take place until much later in 2014. It leaves former No. 1 contender T.J. Grant in limbo. He was set for a title shot but suffered a serious concussion in training and has not fought in a year.

The UFC announced a card in his hometown of Halifax for October, so it’s possible Grant waits for that card and then gets the winner of Melendez and Pettis.

The UFC has a packed 2014 calendar and MMA fans are becoming more adept at wagering on the moneyline and round props as well. Last week, bettors profited by betting against Ronda Rousey to win via armbar (a special prop that Bovada posted the day before her win over Sara McMann).

The other sportsbook that focuses even more attention on MMA betting is 5Dimes and they opened Pettis as a -185 fave.

Anthony "Showtime" Pettis -175

Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez +145