Talk of a fight between Demian Maia and Rory MacDonald has been swirling for some time, but on Friday night, it became official.
The matchup between two of the UFC's top welterweights will go down at UFC 170, which will take place on Feb. 22 at The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. The bout was announced on the promotion's Canadian social media outlet on Friday, and it finally made the highly anticipated and speculated bout a reality.
The 24-year-old Canadian is coming off his first loss since 2010 when he was edged out by Robbie Lawler via split decision last month at UFC 167. The loss stunted what was a rapid rise to the divisional upper tier at 170 pounds for MacDonald and broke up a five-fight winning streak.
Immediately following the bout, he went public with his eagerness to get back into the cage and said he "needed the loss" to rediscover his motivation during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
In order for MacDonald to get back into the mix of the highly competitive welterweight title hunt, he needed to face a top-ranked opponent in his next bout, and that is exactly what Maia represents.
The former middleweight title challenger is in a similar position, as he also suffered a setback in his most recent outing. After picking up three consecutive victories in the welterweight ranks, the Brazilian submission ace was defeated by fellow grappling guru Jake Shields via split decision in their bout at UFC Fight Night 29 in October.
The loss broke up a solid surge of momentum that Maia was building toward a title shot, and much like his counterpart, the 36-year-old expressed an urgency to get back to action quickly.
Last month, Maia's management told UFC Tonight he would like to face MacDonald, and it now appears he will get his wish. While the only other bout to be announced at UFC 170 is the main event between Rashad Evans and Daniel Cormier, it seems likely the welterweight tilt will receive a high billing on the fight card.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.