At 22 years young Canadian welterweight Rory MacDonald is already considered the future of the UFC’s 170lb division. With an outstanding record of 12-1, MacDonald has finished all but one of his fights and the only time he was taken to a decision was by the always tough Nate Diaz. During the course of that fight MacDonald threw Diaz around like a ragdoll. During the third round he German Suplexed Diaz three times to cinch the victory.
The only blemish on MacDonald’s record was to the former WEC Welterweight Champion and current Interim UFC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit at UFC 115 in June of 2010. The first two rounds were pretty much controlled by MacDonald and he seemed well on his way upsetting one of the top welterweights in the world. Unfortunately Condit came alive in the third round and earned the referee stopped the fight with just 7 seconds left. If the fight had gone to the scorecards MacDonald would have won via split decision.
Fast forward nearly two years and “Ares” finds himself fighting in the co-main event of one of the biggest UFC events in history. On April 21 MacDonald will face off against English fighter Che Mills at UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans. The main event has been building up for over a year and the fans are certainly going to flock to see this card. The opportunity for MacDonald to show his skills off to millions of fans worldwide and impress the UFC brass is huge. Now that he is firmly entrenched at the Tristar Gym alongside UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre and coach Firas Zahabi his potential is unlimited.
“I began training with Tri-Star in August of last year,” said MacDonald in an exclusive interview with Fightline. “I trained here part time, but I moved here and began training here from British Columbia about a year and a half ago. Training with Firas has been awesome and all the other coaches have been really beneficial. By training here I have specialized coaches for MMA, boxing, strength and conditioning, wrestling, etc. Another benefit is all the top training partners that come here. It’s a great opportunity to train with GSP and Kenny Florian.”
Success has come very early to MacDonald and if you are looking from the outside in he has made it look easy. There haven’t been too many fighters who have risen up the ranks of the UFC in the same fashion MacDonald has. It has been very surprising to some, but not so to others.
“I’ve been training since I was very young and I fell in love with it,” MacDonald offered. “From the very beginning I set goals for myself so I am not surprised that I have accomplished all that I have up until this point. One of my main goals has always been to be original and exciting at the same time. I want to win and entertain the fans all at once. I believe I am on the cutting edge of the sport and the future is very bright.”
MacDonald’s opponent has just one fight inside the Octagon and that came at UFC 138 last April against Chris Cope. At 14-4 Mills is slightly more experienced than MacDonald, but he has not faced the same caliber of opponents that Rory has. MacDonald is the prohibitive favorite, but he knows that this is MMA an anything can happen. To him he just wants to fight and being in the co-main event has no bearing on how he will perform.
“I really don’t know all that much about him,” explained MacDonald. “That’s how I like it, the less I know the better. I normally don’t do a lot of research or watch a lot of video of my opponents past fights. I just kind of react to what I see in front of me. All I can do is worry about myself and making sure that I am in shape and prepared for anything and everything. My coaches are the ones who set-up my game plan and they train me accordingly. I can tell you that he is a kickboxer and that’s about it to be honest with you. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m in the main event or co-main event or on the undercard it’s still a fight. I don’t let the pressure get to me.”
For MMA fans looking for an opportunity to meet some of their favorite fighters they can travel to Birmingham, England on May 12-13. The MMA Show Live will feature some of the best and brightest MMA stars from the UFC and other organizations including Rory MacDonald. He will be attending the show with a group of his brothers from Alchemist and it promises to be extremely exciting.
“I will be over there, but right now I am not sure what my obligations are,” MacDonald said. “I know my manager and some of the other Alchemist fighters will be going with me, but my manager hasn’t explained to me exactly what I will be doing. Right now I am focused on the fight with Mills. Once that is over I will be able to think about the show and getting to do some seminars and signing autographs for the fans. It should be a good experience and a fun trip.”
April 21 is coming up very quickly and for fans of Rory MacDonald they should expect to see an exciting fight. If his previous performances have told us anything it has told us that he continues to get better and better every time he fights. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to think this fight will be any different.
“The fans can expect to see a better version of Rory MacDonald,” offered the former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion. “There is nothing specific I can tell you, but my goal is to improve every fight. What I try and do every time is train harder and learn more techniques. Hopefully it shows when I go out there and fight. I just want to keep getting better and showcase my skills. I feel as though I have a balanced style and I train in all areas of mixed martial arts and I believe that makes me dangerous in every aspect of the sport.”
UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans takes place this Saturday, April 21st from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Don’t forget to check back here at FightLine.com this Saturday for our live, round-by-round coverage of the event.