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UFC informs Rory MacDonald he will not get next Welterweight title shot, setting up Robbie Lawler vs Johny Hendricks 3

Tell us you didn't see this one coming from 10 miles away ...

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when it was "pretty impossible" to deny Rory MacDonald the next Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight title shot and that it would "absolutely, positively, without a doubt" take place in Canada?

We do, mainly because company president Dana White made the now-hollow guarantee just two months ago moments after "Red King" (not a typo -- he has a new nickname, remember!) scored a third round (technical) knockout victory over Tarec Saffiedine at UFC Fight Night 54.

Yep, MacDonald is no longer next in line, surpassed by former Welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, who just dropped a heart-breaking split decision Robbie Lawler at UFC 181 (watch video highlights here) because he "tried to fight" like MacDonald's Canadian mentor and good friend, Georges St. Pierre.

That's the latest from "UFC Tonight," which MacDonald appeared on earlier this evening to reveal that the promotion is instead interested in an immediate trilogy match between Lawler and Hendricks. As a result, MacDonald will keep his next-after-next spot warm by, "lighting up whoever is next ... like always."

It's hard to blame UFC for reversing course because it really was "too good to pass up." Perhaps more important, however, Lawler preferred to fight Hendricks for a third time rather than MacDonald for a second (he defeated him at UFC 167) ... or anyone else for that matter. Had "Ruthless" been disinterested -- like Jon Jones was with an immediate Alexander Gustafsson rematch -- it might be a different story.

However, Lawler has always been a gamer. And it'd be hard to argue that he actually didn't pick the harder fight -- "Bigg Rigg" has been a handful for Lawler throughout their 50 minutes inside the Octagon together, while MacDonald seemed to wilt under powerful pressure.

There's no telling when Hendricks-Lawler 3 might take place, but Lawler is eying a return in May 2015 on the Memorial Day weekend pay-per-view (PPV). That sounds about right because, at least for now, UFC has a loaded first quarter next year with numerous must-watch events.

One of which that just might feature MacDonald, but against who?

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