The UFC welterweight title picture just got a whole lot murkier on Tuesday, as UFC officials announced that the planned trilogy bout between current champ Robbie Lawler and former champ Johny Hendricks has been nixed, at least for now.
After Rory MacDonald lost his bid for a shot at the belt in his next fight so that the Lawler vs. Hendricks trilogy could first take place, things got a little more cloudy, as Hendricks will first have to step into the Octagon opposite Matt Brown at UFC 185 on March 14 in Dallas.
Brown (19-12) is ranked No. 6 in the UFC 170-pound division. He made a run at a title shot by putting together seven-consecutive wins before losing to Lawler at UFC on FOX 12 in July in a title eliminator bout.
He was supposed to headline UFC Fight Night 60 against Tarec Saffiedine on Valentine’s Day in Colorado, but the former Strikeforce champion had to withdraw due to injury. Unable to find a suitable replacement in time, UFC officials scrapped the headlining bout and inserted Colorado favorite Brandon Thatch into the main event opposite Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Their bout will now be five rounds in duration.
Hendricks was expecting to complete the trilogy with Lawler in his next bout, but MMAWeekly.com sources indicated that Lawler wouldn’t be ready to fight again until summer. Hendricks didn’t want to wait that long, and really wanted to fight in Dallas. At the same time, Brown needed a top-tier opponent, so the move was made to match the two at the American Airlines Center.
UFC 185 is headlined by a title bout between lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos.
Thatch and Thompson were already scheduled on the UFC Fight Night 60 card in Broomfield, Colo., but now get the bump up to main event status on the FOX Sports 1 broadcast.
Thatch (11-1) is on a 10-fight winning streak and hasn’t tasted defeat since 2008. He made his promotional debut in August 2013, winning Knockout of the Night honors for his first-round finish of Justin Edwards. He defeated Paulo Thiago in his last outing at UFC Fight Night 32.
Thompson (10-1) is currently riding a four-fight winning streak. He defeated Patrick Cote in his last outing at UFC 178 in September. The lone loss on his record came to Brown in April 2012.