Does anybody know when we will see the real Rory MacDonald? Who is he? There are plenty of people on both sides of this MacDebate, but, as John Hoven at Sherdog reports, the jury is still out.
Think about it. When Georges St. Pierre was coming up as a challenger, it was obvious he was ready. Before Jon Jones became the light heavyweight champion of the world, he was universally recognized as the next big thing at 205 pounds. Yet MacDonald has been a bit of a mystery since starting out 10-0.
To quickly recap, it was UFC 115 in June 2010 when Carlos Condit knocked him out with just seven seconds remaining in their fight. A decision win over Nate Diaz and two subsequent TKOs over lesser opponents had rebuilt his reputation heading into a December 2012 fight with B.J. Penn; that is where we usually meet the fork in this discussion. Yes, MacDonald soundly defeated Penn by unanimous decision, but he did not show the killer instinct to finish the fight. Even his supporters will tell you it was there for the taking.
In the days leading up to MacDonald’s fight with Demian Maia at UFC 170 on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Ultimate Fighting Championship Preisdent Dana White said, “It’s a big fight for these guys. Every fight, you’re in a must-win situation, but for where they stand in the division, it’s an important fight for them.”
After the first fight minutes of their scrap, it looked like Maia was the only one who got the message. To say Maia controlled his Canadian opponent on the ground during the opening round would be like stating something as obvious as Chuck Liddell hits hard. After moving to full mount following a takedown, Maia alternated between punches and elbows that seemed to come from every angle and without an end in sight. MacDonald tried feverishly to free himself but had no plausible escape plan from the bottom.
“He was in a full mount by a five-time world champion, but he got out of it,” White said. “He took some punches in that round [and] hung in there.”
The adversity, MacDonald claimed, was not a problem for him inside the cage.
“I stayed calm. I knew Demian’s takedown was very strong. He’s a very strong jiu-jitsu fighter, so I stayed relaxed and waited for my opportunity to escape and get back to my feet,” he said. “Obviously, he’s a super tough guy. I hit him with a lot of good shots, and he stayed on his feet.”
The shots to which he referred came fairly consistently in the second and third rounds. In the middle stanza, MacDonald effectively used a variety of kicks to prevent Maia from ever feeling confident in his takedown attempts. By the final frame, MacDonald was landing clean strikes and damaging Maia. However, it never felt like a stoppage was near.
“I was definitely trying to finish him,” MacDonald said. “I was definitely trying to keep the pressure on him, keep the punches and kicks coming, but he was a tough guy, really resilient. He was taking everything I had. He was constantly shooting for my legs, shooting really low, so I had to be aware of staying in position. I was definitely in there for the kill tonight, you know; it didn’t come through.”
MacDonald did manage to win over at least one critic.
“I’ve been hard on Rory his last couple of fights,” White said, “but he looked great tonight. I was really happy with his performance.”
This article originally appeared at Sherdog.
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