MacDonald making his mark in MMA

Jose Rodriguez, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:06 AM ET

He has the vacant-faced confidence of Fedor Emelianenko and the single-mindedness of Georges St. Pierre. 

Kelowna’s Rory MacDonald gave arguably the most dominating performance of the night at UFC 129 in Toronto last week and is now looking to move up the ranks.

The 21-year-old embarrassed the scrappy Nate Diaz in front of a sold-out crowd of 55,000 — picking him up and slamming him to the canvas seemingly at will. 

Two of the three judges gave him a two-point round for his efforts. 

MacDonald has been called part of the new breed of fighters: Men who don’t come from one specific discipline — wrestling, jiu-jitsu, muay thai — and then expand to round out their game.

MacDonald began training in the full buffet of martial arts that make up a well-rounded MMA fighter from Day 1.

Training under David Lea and his Toshido Fighting Arts Academy, MacDonald had his first pro fight at 16. 

At just 19, he became King of the Cage World Lightweight champ and at 20 he was fighting in the UFC.

But more impressive than his thunderous slams and calculated control of the eight-sided cage is his ability to stick to his game plan. In that, the unflappable MacDonald is mature beyond his years. 

In a recent radio interview with MMAJunkie, MacDonald spoke about how he kept his cool as Diaz tried taunting and trash-talking to shake him from his strategy.  

“I knew going into this fight (that) the more Nate felt he was losing the fight, he would try to get more and more into the trash talk and separate me from my game plan,” said MacDonald. 

“I was prepared for it. I looked at his chest rather than his eyes — the technical side of his movements, rather than his mouth.”

With an 11-1 record overall and 2-1 in the UFC, MacDonald feels as though he’s shaken off the one and only loss of his career.

His UFC 115 bout against Carlos Condit — which he lost with just seconds left in the third and final round as a result of a ref stoppage due to strikes — may have left people with the impression MacDonald is not a legitimate contender-in-the-making. 

MacDonald says he believes he’s proved different with his fight against Diaz, though he knows each fight from here will be against increasingly tougher opponents. 

Jake Ellenberger (25-5) has been rumoured as a potential next fight for MacDonald.

Now training under Firas Zahabi at Montreal’s Tristar Gym that was made famous by St. Pierre, David Loiseau and a slew of other fighters, MacDonald says he doesn’t care who’s next. 

“My job is to fight,” said MacDonald.

“My manager and the UFC negotiate my opponent, and I take it from there. I’ve said many times (that) I feel I’m one of the best in the world at my weight, and I’m willing to prove that against the other best fighters in the world.”

Tiabu to replace McKenzie

UFC officials have brought in Gleison Tiabu to replace the injured Cody McKenzie at UFC 130. Tibau will take on Bart Palaszewski at the May 28 event in Las Vegas that will be headlined by the Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard rematch for the lightweight title.  

Grant steps in for Riddle

The UFC has announced a lineup change for its June 26 UFC on Versus 4 event. Out is Matt Riddle, and T.J. Grant will now face Charlie Brenneman at the event to take place at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center. The event will be headlined by Nate “The Great” Marquardt taking on Anthony Johnson.

Poll pits Jones vs. Pacquiao

Who’s the most dangerous man alive? According to SPIKE TV, the choice is between UFC light-heavyweight champ Jon “Bones” Jones and boxing phenom Manny Pacquiao. The poll is part of the station’s annual Guys Choice Awards. People have until June 4 to vote for their choice. 

 


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