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Ronda Rousey to carry UFC 170 following Rashad Evans' injury

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Now it truly is a Ronda Rousey card.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight title-holder Rashad Evans has withdrawn from the Feb. 22 UFC 170 card at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with a leg injury.

That scraps Evans’ co-main event against former Strikeforce champion Daniel Cormier (13-0) and leaves Rousey’s women’s bantamweight title defense against 2008 Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann (7-0) as the sole fight of significant
interest on the pay-per-view card.

A welterweight fight between former middleweight title challenger Demian Maia (18-5) and Canada’s Rory MacDonald (15-2) is now elevated to co-main status.

UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times this week he believes that Venice’s Rousey (8-0) is the UFC’s second-most-popular active fighter, behind Anderson Silva.

That theory now has a significant test with the loss of a fight that looked to be an eliminator for a title shot at light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Fertitta said in a text message he wants Evans-Cormier to happen, and is looking to place it on another card following Evans’ four-week recovery period -- possibly on a late-April card in Baltimore.

Cormier, moving down from heavyweight, was to make his light-heavyweight debut in the bout against third-ranked Evans, who has beaten veterans Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen in consecutive fights.

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire    

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