Rory MacDonald was constantly fielding questions about a potential meeting with his Tristar Gym teammate Georges St-Pierre when GSP held the UFC welterweight title.
Now that St-Pierre has excused himself from the promotion, MacDonald can focus on himself. Saturday night, he returns to action against Tarec Saffiedine in the main event of UFC Fight Night 54.
“It’s a little of freedom,” said MacDonald, during a recent interview on UFC Tonight. “Now there’s no stress between me and my goal. The only thing stopping me is myself.
“I have to go out there and win the fights that get me (to a title shot).”
MacDonald (17-2) has won back-to-back decisions since a 2013 loss to Robbie Lawler. He topped Tyron Woodley in June after a February win vs. Demian Maia. While nothing has been confirmed as far as earning the role of No. 1 contender with a win, the Canadian knows he would be hard to deny if he tops a former Strikeforce champion in Saffiedine.
“This is the fight that really sticks me in there as the No. 1 contender,” he said. “I have to get through Tarec and he’s a dangerous guy.”
He’s been called out for a lack of aggression in past fights, but MacDonald feels everything Saffiedine does, he will be able to one-up.
“I think that with all the training over the years, I’ve developed tools and skills I feel confident in,” he said. “I think they’re going to work well against his style of fighting. I’m going to be myself.”