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One of the most anticipated title fights in Bellator history will kick off the organization’s 2018 schedule when welterweight champion Douglas Lima meets Rory MacDonald.

A fight between Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) and MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has been speculated since the former UFC title challenger joined the Bellator roster this past year. It will finally happen on Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and promotional efforts for the contest are already underway.

During Saturday’s Bellator 183 event, Lima – No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings – and No. 4-ranked MacDonald, faced off for the first time, and the Canadian came dressed for the occasion (via Twitter):

MacDonald made a successful Bellator debut in May with a second-round submission of Paul Daley. “Semtex” competed in the Bellator 183 co-headliner, picking up a second-round knockout over Lorenz Larkin.

Lima holds unanimous decision victories over Daley and Larkin. However, given his takeaway from all the fights he’s witnessed between the trio, MacDonald doesn’t think the champion has much chance of retaining his belt.

“He’s in for a hurting, man,” MacDonald said. “As you can see in these guys’ last performance here (between Daley and Larkin), I’m a level above these guys. This guy could barely hold his own with these two men in here, and I finished (Daley) like it was nothing. Expect the same when it comes to me fighting him.”

Lima was given a chance to fire back, and he did.

“It’s just going to be another name to the list,” Lima said. “Keep bringing them over (from the UFC), and I’ll keep taking them out.”

Can it be 2018 already?! @phenomlima vs @romac_gorilla who wins???

A post shared by Bellator MMA (@bellatormma) on

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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