Rory “Ares” MacDonald was supposed to be the heir apparent to his training partner Georges St. Pierre’s UFC welterweight crown. Unfortunately for “Ares,” however, Robbie Lawler didn’t get the memo, smashing MacDonald en route to a split decision victory at UFC 167 last month.
In an odd twist of events, MacDonald actually overtook Lawler in the rankings this week. He should be miles behind “Ruthless” in terms of actual title contention. MacDonald is still very young and very talented but he will have a bigger mountain to climb back towards title contention,
It appears that his first test has been set. MacDonald will face Brazilian jiu-jitsu wiz Demian Maia at February 22’s UFC 170 from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The fight was teased on this week’s edition of “UFC Tonight,” and made official prior to UFC Fight Night 33 last night.
Maia recently made a successful cut down to 170 pounds after fighting at middleweight for several years, defeating Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story and Jon Fitch in dominant fashion.
But Maia ran into a roadblock of his own when he was smothered by fellow grappling ace Jake Shields in the main event of UFC Fight Night 29 in October. In another strange set of rankings circumstances, the number six-ranked Maia actually sits above number seven Shields. It’s hard to explain why two fighters who just lost fights that weren’t that close are ranked above the men who beat them, but that’s a different discussion for another time.
UFC 170 is shaping up to be yet another blockbuster event from the UFC, featuring a headliner between former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and Daniel Cormier. “DC” is making his first cut down to 205 pounds, so it will very interesting to see how that plays out. A tantalizing lightweight scrap between under-the-radar contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Rustam Khabilov is also set to go down at the event.
What are your thoughts on MacDonald’s next fight? It is definitely not an easy tune-up fight in any sense of the term. Will “Ares” get back on track against decorated mat technician Maia?