In the middle of UFC Fight Night 33, the UFC announced a key welterweight showdown for UFC 170 in Las Vegas. #3 ranked Rory MacDonald is set to face #6 Demian Maia on February 22nd, with both men looking to get back on the winning track following split decision defeats:
MacDonald (15-2) came into the Robbie Lawler fight at UFC 167 having won 4 straight, including a decision win over Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8. Lawler was able to pull off the upset with a strong 3rd round (which included a knockdown) and send the Canadian to his first loss since 2010.
Maia (18-5) dropped to welterweight following a lackluster outing against Chris Weidman. The revered BJJ black belt notched wins against Dong Hyun Kim, Jon Fitch, and of course the famous blood squeezing neck crank against Rick Story. A narrow split decision loss to Jake Shields this past October snapped his winning streak.
At 36 years of age, I'd say another loss for Maia and it just about kills off any title shot aspirations regardless of who the champion is come next year. As for MacDonald, he's only 24 but has been competing professionally for 8 years so he's past the point of "prospect". He was definitely uncomfortable on the feet against Lawler, but this time around he should have a decided edge in the striking. What remains to be seen (and obviously we'll find out when these two men fight) is whether Maia can drag him to the ground and engage in a grappling struggle.