Rory MacDonald will have to wait at least one more fight before fighting for a world title.

Makes Sense

UFC President Dana White announced on Thursday that the first title defense of newly crowned UFC welterweight champion Robbie “Ruthless” Lawler will be against the man he took the belt from-Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks and not top contender Rory MacDonald. MacDonald had earned his title shot after three successive victories over Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffediene in 2014. Before the Hendricks-Lawler fight at UFC 181, White had said that MacDonald will fight the winner of that bout on March 14th in MacDonald’s home country of Canada. However, after the narrow margin of victory by Lawler over Hendricks last December, White said that completing the Hendricks-Lawler trilogy “makes sense.”

Taking Over From GSP

Hendricks and Lawler first fought each other at UFC 171 when they fought for the title vacated by longtime champion Georges St. Pierre. Coming off a controversial win over Hendricks where experts believe that Big Rigg won, St. Pierre walked away from the sport citing personal reasons and left the UFC welterweight title up for grabs. After being thought to have been “robbed” of victory, Hendricks was slated to fight for the vacant title against Robbie Lawler, who earned a trip to the title match with a UFC 167 win over Rory MacDonald.

A Close Call

Their first fight was as close as the second one. Both Hendricks and Lawler fought back and forth in a slugfest. But Hendricks’ takedown of Lawler in the fifth and final round proved to be the decisive move of the contest. Hendricks defeated Lawler to become the UFC Welterweight champion. While Lawler fought twice after losing to Hendricks, the new champion was sidelined by injury and by the time he recovered, the UFC set his next bout against the man he beat by a close call. Their rematch was set at UFC 181 and once again they fought in a classic. However, this time it was Lawler who turned the tide in the final minute of the bout, punching away in a blaze of glory to beat Hendricks via split decision.

Who To Pick

Hendricks was a -220 favorite during their rematch, with Lawler a +180 underdog. He was also a -370 against Lawler’s +325 during their first encounter at UFC 171. But as we know it, those two fights had different results although they were both very close and could have gone either way. Both fights were ultimately decided in the fifth round and there is no reason why the third fight will be just as close. No final date has been set yet for the rubber match although the March 14th date has been moved by the UFC from Canada to Dallas and has been dubbed as UFC 185. So it’s more likely that Lawler and Hendricks will settle their differences on that date.

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