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UFC decides not to give Rory MacDonald the next welterweight title shot

All signs point to a Lawler vs. Hendricks trilogy following news that Rory MacDonald won't be getting the next crack at the belt.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the real loser of the incredibly close rematch between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler was actually Rory MacDonald. Lawler eked out a split decision to become the UFC's welterweight champion, but the decision was controversial enough that the thought of a rubber match between the two men did run through Dana White's head. Rory MacDonald was supposed to be the #1 contender following his TKO win over Tarec Saffiedine in October, but it looks like the time isn't now for Rory's shot at UFC gold. According to UFC Tonight and Fox Sports, MacDonald has not been granted the next title shot, and that Lawler/Hendricks 3 is in early talks for 2015:

MacDonald told UFC Tonight's Ariel Helwani that he was informed by the UFC that he would not be receiving the next crack at the belt despite standing next in line after his win over Tarec Saffiedine in October.

"It's all good. I'm just gonna light up whoever is next. Like always," MacDonald said.

Hendricks' management team also stated that they haven't been approached about the third fight with Lawler, but separate sources speaking to FOX Sports on Wednesday stated that preliminary discussions have started to put the fight together in the first half of 2015.

Lawler plans to return to the cage by Memorial Day weekend, so if the rubber match is made, the UFC will likely set it up for its annual big May event in Las Vegas.

MacDonald (18-2) went 3-0 in 2014, beating exclusively top 10 ranked opposition in Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley, and Saffiedine. His last loss, however, was a split decision to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 in November 2013. Based on this, it's likely that MacDonald has to take another fight, and scanning the field, the winner of Hector Lombard/Josh Burkman on January 3rd could be Rory's next opponent.

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