MONTREAL - Rory MacDonald is happy to fly under the radar leading into his long-awaited UFC title bout.
The welterweight battle between MacDonald (18-2), a Quesnel, B.C., native, based out of Montreal, and Robbie Lawlor (25-10) has not drawn nearly the attention of the main event fighters, featherweights Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, whose pre-fight promotional tour has been high on theatrics.
That leaves the low-key MacDonald free to focus on Lawlor, who beat him in a three round split decision in November, 2013.
"It's just like a regular fight," MacDonald said Wednesday. "It doesn't seem there's been much attention on it, which is pretty cool. It's been quite enjoyable."
Still, it will be a big night for the 25-year-old, even if he considers Las Vegas a city "I don't groove with too well."
His bout will be the co-feature on the 11-bout UFC 189 fight card and is a chance to fulfil a long-standing goal.
"Obviously there's more pressure," he said. "It's a five-round fight with one of the best guys in the world.
"I'm just focused on taking on a highly skilled opponent, like any other fight I've had in the last year."
MacDonald said he was neither fully healthy nor sufficiently motivated the last time he faced Lawlor, the Florida resident who will make the first defence of the 170-pound crown he won by decision from Johny Hendricks.
"It was just my hunger wasn't there," said MacDonald. "I didn't wake up until the third round when I got dropped.
"Before that, I was like 'I just want this to be over.' The difference this time is I want to fight. I'm looking forward to being in there, have the blood on my face and be in the heat of battle."
MacDonald rebounded from the defeat to post wins over Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine in 2014 to earn a shot at the title.
Some feel he deserved a title bout earlier, but MacDonald says it's just right.
"Just the way the scene was the last year, with me losing to Robbie, and Johny Hendricks and the way their fights went," he said. "It worked out the way it's supposed to.
"I have no complaints. If I didn't get this title fight I would think it was a little bit weird, but I think it was well deserved."
He'll have company from his home gym in Alex Garcia, who will face veteran Mike Swick in a three-round welterweight battle on the undercard. Garcia is coming off a knee injury suffered in a loss to Neil Magny last August.
"I'm ready for it, now I feel great," said Garcia.
The main event pits the Brazilian Aldo (25-1), ranked second pound for pound in the UFC, against Irishman McGregor (17-2), who has won 13 straight bouts. Aldo is the only featherweight champion UFC has had and he will defend the belt for the eighth time.