Not only was Rory MacDonald’s (14-1) performance against B.J. Penn (16-9-2) dominant, but he was respectful to his opponent according to Tristar Gym head coach Firas Zahabi. At UFC on FOX 5, MacDonald took home the decision win, but not before he did the Ali shuffle in the closing moments of the fight.
“I can’t believe people perceived it that way,” said Zahabi on Sherdog Radio Network. “It makes no sense to me because the shuffle is a technique. He was not just doing it to showboat. He was doing it to execute a strike.”
A major concern for Zahabi heading into the fight was that MacDonald had been too respectful because of the status that Penn carries around.
“That was a big concern that [MacDonald] would be a deer stuck in the headlights because you’re fighting a guy who’s got such an aura about him,” said Zahabi. “We made sure to show him all the respect in the world in terms of a fighter who paved the way.”
MacDonald is now set for a rematch against Carlos Condit (28-6) at UFC 158 on March 16. Condit won the first fight after making a late comeback to give MacDonald his first and only loss to date. Penn’s future is not known, but Dana White has expressed that he wants him to retire.
“For sure [Condit is] going to bring new things to the table, but the time is a little short for that,” said Zahabi.