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Robbie Lawler defends welterweight title against Rory MacDonald in UFC 189 co-main event

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Rory MacDonald is getting his title shot after all.

The Canadian star will take on UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler with the belt on the line in the co-main event of UFC 189 on July 11 in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White announced Wednesday during the UFC's performance-enhancing drug press conference.

The Lawler-MacDonald will co-headline the event since a featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor has also been announced for the same card. UFC 189 at the MGM Grand will be the highlight of the UFC's annual International Fight Week celebration.

MacDonald (18-2) was initially supposed to meet Hector Lombard in the co-main event of UFC 186 on April 24 in Montreal, but Lombard tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs following his UFC 182 bout against Josh Burkman last month. Lombard was pulled from the fight and now MacDonald will get the title shot he was promised.

MacDonald, 25, has won three in a row and is coming off a third-round TKO of Tarec Saffiedine in October. He owns notable wins over Tyron Woodley, B.J. Penn, Nate Diaz and Demian Maia. "The Red King" fell to Lawler by split decision at UFC 167 in November 2013. That was his last loss.

Lawler (27-8) won the title from Johny Hendricks with a unanimous decision victory at UFC 181 on Dec. 6. He went 3-1 during a marathon 2014 and was named Fighter of the Year at the Fighters Only World MMA Awards last month.

"Ruthless" is one of the best comeback stories in the history of the sport. He started in the UFC in 2002 when he was just 19 years old. After being released by the promotion in 2004, he bounced around from organization to organization until his return in 2013. Since then, he is 6-1 with the only loss coming via a close unanimous decision to Hendricks at UFC 171 in March 2014.

Lawler-MacDonald and Aldo-McGregor are the only fights currently announced for UFC 189. There is also likely to be a UFC Fight Night event one day later, also in Las Vegas, as part of the International Fight Week festivities.

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