UFC 185 and UFC 186 will determine next welterweight title fight
The welterweight title picture isn’t clear right now, but the next contender at 170-pounds will likely emerge after two pivotal fights take place in March and April.
The original plan was putting current champion Robbie Lawler in a third fight with former title holder Johny Hendricks later this year. As it turns out, Lawler was hoping for some time off after an extremely busy 13-month period where he fought five times including three, five round bouts.
According to UFC president Dana White, who spoke to UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani, Lawler’s timeline for return allowed them to set up a pair of matchups at 170-pounds with the most impressive winner likely standing tall as the next contender to face the champion when he gets back in action later this year.
The fights were relatively easy to make as well considering Hendricks didn’t want to sit out as long as it would take for Lawler to come back, so he was placed in a fight with Matt Brown at UFC 185. Brown was also waiting for an opponent after Tarec Saffiedine suffered an injury, which scrapped their scheduled fight at UFC Fight Night in Colorado.
The other welterweight matchup will pit Rory MacDonald against Hector Lombard at UFC 186 in Montreal in April.
Following the two separate fights, the UFC will then decide who should be the next contender to get a title shot as Lawler looks to defend his belt for the first time.
Speaking of Montreal, with word that MacDonald vs. Lombard being added the card, there still hasn’t been confirmation on a main event although a few ideas are starting to come together for the upcoming show in Canada.
Discussions are ongoing to potentially place bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw against former 135-pound king Renan Barao in the headline slot. The deal is currently not done, but Dillashaw vs. Barao 2 seems likely for the Montreal main event.
Another fight that’s currently rumored for the show is the return of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in a matchup against fellow heavy handed light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado. Again, the fight is not a done deal by any means, but there have been talks about the matchup happening at UFC 186 in Montreal