UFC 170 fight card primer: Rory MacDonald vs Demian Maia

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann in our fight card primer series. Here we look at Rory MacDonald vs Demian Maia, live on PPV.

At UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann, Rory MacDonald (15-2 MMA; 6-2 UFC) squares off with Demian Maia (18-5 MMA; 12-5 UFC). This three round Welterweight fight is third on the five fight main card live on PPV. The UFC Rankings have MacDonald as the #4 contender, Maia just below him at #6. UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann airs this Saturday, February 22 live on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT for the main card.

This is really a perfectly booked fight, as the rankings indicate. Both men have recently made strong runs to title contention, but both are coming off somewhat surprising losses that stopped that momentum. In the currently tumultuous, champion-free Welterweight division, a convincing win here could put one man right back at the top of the contender list. A loss will put the other a 2 fight losing streak - the first 2 fight losing streak of either man's career. The stakes are high.

How do these two stack up?

MacDonald: 24 years old | 6'0" | 77" reach
Maia: 36 years old | 6'0" | 72" reach

What have these two done recently?

MacDonald: L - Robbie Lawler (SD) | W - Jake Ellenberger (UD) | W - B.J. Penn (UD)
Maia: L - Jake Shields (UD) | W - Jon Fitch (UD) | W - Rick Story (Sub)

How did these two get here?

Rory MacDonald has been hailed as the next big thing in the UFC Welterweight division for the past three years. But as long as his TriStar teammate Georges St. Pierre was around, there seemed to be a cap on his upwards mobility. Now, with GSP out, MacDonald has the chance to fight for the title. Unfortunately for him, his recent loss to Robbie Lawler could not have come at a worse time. Win that fight, and it's likely Rory MacDonald is in an upcoming fight for the vacant belt. Now, he has to fight his way back. MacDonald is a good striker who has become a bit more slow paced as of late. He also has a history of injuries getting in the way of his fights.

More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann

Former Middleweight title contender Demian Maia looked a bit lost in the 185 pound division after his loss to Anderson Silva, but a 2012 drop down to Welterweight completely revitalized him. Three straight wins put him on the cusp of title contention, but a loss to Jake Shields slowed him down. One of the best grapplers in MMA today, Maia is an absolute master on the ground. Particularly at Middleweight, he had a bad tendency to get away from those strengths and instead focus on his average kickboxing skills. If he makes this a ground fight, he should have the serious edge, but on the feet, it will be MacDonald's game. At 36 years old, this is probably Maia's last chance at a title run.

Why should you care?

Two highly technical fighters with a lot on the line. That could result in a great technical battle, or it could result in a tentative affair. Either way, it's a major fight for the division with serious ramifications for both men's careers.

Here's some video analysis of the final three fights on the UFC 170 card by our own Kid Nate, Dallas Winston and Connor Ruebusch. They dive deep into Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann, Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins, and Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia.

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