Canadian contender Rory MacDonald (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has suffered a neck injury in training and has been forced to withdraw from a planned UFC 158 matchup with Carlos Condit (28-6, 5-2). However, the "Natural Born Killer" will still face a fellow top-ranked opponent as Johny Hendricks (14-1, 9-1) has agreed to fill the open slot.
USA TODAY Sports learned of the shuffle while speaking with UFC President Dana White late Monday evening.
"Once we knew Rory had to withdraw, we started looking for potential replacements," White said. "Johny Hendricks called me and said he wanted that fight, so we're going to give it to him a shot at Carlos."
Condit and MacDonald were scheduled for the co-main event of "UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz," which takes place March 16 at Montreal's Bell Centre. The winner was expected to hold an envious position in the company's ultra-competitive 170-pound division and potentially earn a shot at the welterweight title. That might have left Hendricks, who recently dispatched of perennial contender Martin Kampmann in just 46 seconds, again waiting his turn.
Hendricks was already on the fight card at UFC 158, where he was expected to face Jake Ellenberger (28-6, 7-2). But by moving into the matchup with Condit, a onetime title challenger, "Bigg Rigg" now likely boosts his chances for earning a title shot of his own with a victory.
Ellenberger is still expected to compete at the event against an opponent to be determined.
White also revealed his first selection to fill MacDonald's position was incoming Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine (14-3, 0-0). However, the UFC boss said the Belgian fighter turned down the opportunity, allowing Hendricks to step in against Condit.
UFC 158 features a welterweight title bout between current champion Georges St-Pierre and former Strikeforce title holder Nick Diaz. The evening's main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.