Rory MacDonald and Demian Maia will face off at UFC 170 in February.
The promotion announced the match on its Canadian Twitter page Friday.
Both men are coming off split decision losses in their last fights — MacDonald lost to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 last month, and Maia was defeated by Jake Shields at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields in October.
MacDonald said he “needed” to lose to Lawler in order to change his mindset.
“I think it’s a collection of things, it’s been leading up to (this). I think it’s just my mental state, the way I’ve been thinking leading up to fights. I’ve been more interested in after the fight, rather than getting into the fight,” the 24-year-old Canadian said.
“My fights before, the most exciting point for me was actually getting into the fight,” he added. “I was hungry. I wanted to destroy my opponents, and I was hungry. I had that fire in me to fight. I think it shows in both of my performances this year, that I didn’t have that fire.”
While Rory MacDonald won his match against Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8 in July, UFC president Dana White told reporters the fight “sucked so bad,” saying Ellenberger did nothing and that no one was “screaming to see [MacDonald] fight again” after the unanimous decision victory.
Last month, Demian Maia’s manager told UFC Tonight‘s Ariel Helwani that the 36-year-old Brazilian wanted to face MacDonald if former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren didn’t end up signing with the UFC. Askren became an unrestricted free agent last month, and fought his last match at Bellator 97 in July. Dana White said Askren was a “nice kid” — having previously called him “the most boring fighter in MMA history” — but that the promotion wouldn’t be signing him at this time.
UFC 170 will be held February 22, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Daniel Cormier will make his light heavyweight debut against Rashad Evans in the main event.
[Pictured: Rory MacDonald]