Crowning moment?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

One is the Canadian boy wonder and the other has dethroned one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts' lightweight ranks and trains under former UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes.

King of the Cage Canadian lightweight champ Rory MacDonald gets his shot at the KOTC world title tonight when he meets Clay French at the Commonwealth Centre, 1177-3961 52 Ave. N.E.

French, who took the belt from The Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig early last year, will be the undefeated 19-year-old's biggest challenge to date.

But MacDonald's trainer David Lea, of Team Toshido in Kelowna, says his young pupil is up for the challenge.

"I've known Rory since he was 14 and had never thrown a punch," said Lea.

"At his young age of 19, he's constantly changing physically. Every month, he feels stronger and more technical."

MacDonald, who had his first pro fight at the tender age of 16, says it's an honour to be fighting for a world belt.

"I think of this as a real good opportunity to further my career," said MacDonald, who is 6-0 in the cage.

"I've always said I wanted to fight the top fighters."

MacDonald explains on the KOTC website he is aware of his opponent's strengths.

"I definitely think his wrestling and his ground-and-pound are what make him a dangerous guy," he says.

"I think I have the stand-up and the overall striking which is best for this kind of fight. I want to be on top if we're on the ground or on my feet.

"I just think that being on my back is not the right place to be for this fight because of his wrestling style. I think that's exactly where he wants to put me.

"So I'll be looking out for that during the fight."

King of the Cage Canada president Ken Kupsch says MacDonald is a very cerebral fighter and has a tendency to remain calm under fire -- a nice match-up for a proven giant killer like French.

"Should be a great fight," said Kupsch.

French, an Illinois native with a 16-3 record, is nine years older than MacDonald and is coming off a loss at a Japanese "Sengoku" event in August. An accomplished wrestler, he is also a coach at Eastern Illinois University.

Tickets for the event are available at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with fights starting at 7 p.m.

Canadian King of the Cage lightweight champ Rory MacDonald faces ground-and-pound expert Clay French in tonight's bout.


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