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Hendricks-Brown, MacDonald-Lombard fights will determine next UFC welterweight contender

According to Dana White, the more impressive winner from the two biggest upcoming welterweight bouts will be facing champion Robbie Lawler in his next fight.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The welterweight title picture is quite muddled, to say the least. In October, it looked like Rory MacDonald was set to fight the winner of Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler 2 after he stopped Tarec Saffiedine, but then that shot was revoked when Dana White stated that a rubber match between Lawler and Hendricks was likely. As it turns out, Lawler requested time off to heal after fighting 18 rounds over the span of 4 fights in 2014, so the UFC has now come up with a new plan for Lawler's first title defense. Per Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, the more impressive victor from Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown and Rory MacDonald vs. Hector Lombard will become the new #1 contender. Hendricks accepted the fight with Brown because he wanted to "stay busy" and not wait for Lawler to heal up.

It's not the first time that the "most impressive performance gets a title shot" method has been implemented. Fans may recall a similar instance in 2012 at UFC on Fox 4, when Dana White declared Lyoto Machida the #1 contender for Jon Jones' belt after his KO of Ryan Bader was deemed to be better than Mauricio Rua stopping Brandon Vera. Machida turned down the short-notice title shot against Jones at UFC 152, had to fight against Dan Henderson after that, and never got his rematch with Jones.

Hendricks vs. Brown is on the main card of UFC 185 on March 14th, while MacDonald vs. Lombard is on the UFC 186 main card on April 25th. Based on the dates of the two fights, don't expect Lawler to fight again until late summer or early autumn.

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