Tarec Saffiedine out, Jake Ellenberger to face Robbie Lawler at UFC 173

Robbie Lawler (left) gets right back at it against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

UFC 173 might have lost its initial main event, but Memorial Day Weekend just got pretty interesting regardless.

Tarec Saffiedine is injured and had to pull out of his fight with Jake Ellenberger at UFC 172. Now, Ellenberger will meet Robbie Lawler at UFC 173 on May 24 in Las Vegas, UFC officials confirmed with FOX Sports. MMA Junkie first reported the story.

Lawler (22-10, 1 NC) is coming off a loss to Johny Hendricks in a bout for the vacant welterweight title, a Fight of the Year candidate. Before that, he had won three in a row, putting himself among the elite welterweights in the world — 12 years after the 32-year-old’s first UFC fight.

Ellenberger (29-7) was supposed to fight Saffiedine in January in Singapore, but pulled out with a hamstring injury. After Saffiedine defeated Hyun Gyu Lim, the Ellenberger-Saffiedine bout was rebooked for UFC 172 on April 26 in Baltimore. It seems like it just isn’t in the cards for the two to fight.

Ellenberger, 29, has not fought since last July, a unanimous decision loss to Rory MacDonald. A win over Lawler would put himself right back in the title conversation. Ellenberger is No. 5 in the UFC welterweight contender rankings.

If Lawler is victorious, he could very easily earn another shot at Hendricks’ belt. He’s still ranked No. 1 among contenders.

The Memorial Day Weekend card is headlined by a bantamweight title fight between champion Renan Barao and T.J. Dillashaw, which was just announced Thursday. The original main event was a middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida.