Barely out of his teens, B.C’s Rory MacDonald is at the head of the new wave of MMA fighters.
His first scrap in the UFC, months after his 20th birthday, resulted in a convincing first-round submission victory over Michael Guymon at UFC Fight Night 20 on Jan. 11 and accolades from fight club brass.
His reward is a spot in the UFC’s first show in Western Canada against a big-name opponent.
The Kelowna welterweight is set to take on veteran welterweight Carlos Condit at UFC 115, scheduled for June 12 in Vancouver.
The former King of the Cage lightweight champ is unlike many MMA fighters in that he never took any formal martial arts or combat training.
At 14, he began studying MMA and its multi-discipline approach to fighting — a mix of Muay Thai, Greco-Roman wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
At 16, he had his first pro fight.
“The guys at the gym told me I should fight because I was doing well against full-grown men there,” recalls MacDonald. “I won in two minutes of the first round. I choked the guy and it all basically took off from there.”
A member of the Bushido fight club that has been feeding smaller shows throughout Canada for years, MacDonald knows Condit is his toughest opponent yet.
“It’s going to be an honour to fight Carlos,” says MacDonald. “He’s a guy that I’ve watched for a while and I’ve really enjoyed watching his fights.
“As soon as I heard his name, I was totally excited to get the chance to fight him.”
Condit, a former World Extreme Cagefighting champion, has 29 fights under his belt with only five losses.
He is a tall welterweight at 6-foot-1 with a strong submission game.
But MacDonald, who sports a perfect 10-0 record, says he will be ready.
“I’m not too worried about training with guys who are tall and lanky,” says MacDonald. “He’s going to present his style when we’re in there and I’m going to have to deal with it.”
MacDonald sees himself as a rounded fighter who is equally lethal standing up or on the mat.
“I’m dangerous in all areas,” he says.
One thing he knows come June 12, there will be plenty of home-town support.
“Everyone I talk to says they’re going to be there, but I think the hardest thing will be for everyone to get tickets because I’m sure it’s going to sell out quick.”
UFC 115, though not officially announced, is expected to be headlined by a TUF coaches battle between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Tito “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz. Randy “The Natural” Couture is also rumoured to be taking on Rich “Ace” Franklin at the event.