The Rory MacDonald hype train hasn't quite left the station, but it's getting close. The engine is smoking, the passengers are on board and it's about to depart.
MacDonald is getting plenty of attention these days. He's in the semi-main event of UFC 145 in a bout that seems designed to give him a dominant win and showcase his skills. He's young, he's talented and he's mowing through good opponents at a rapid pace.
He's also getting plenty of comparisons to Georges St-Pierre, his TriStar teammate. Those comparisons even come from UFC president Dana White.
"This kid’s awesome," White said in a recent press conference. "Even Georges St-Pierre says he’s the next Georges St-Pierre, so that’s pretty impressive."
I understand the need to make comparisons between young fighters and established stars. It helps us, as media and fans of the sport, to establish a baseline. It gives us a vision of what their potential might be; where they might be three or five years down the road.
It's prevalent in all sports, not just mixed martial arts. As a matter of fact, much of the statistical revolution in Major League Baseball over the past 10 years came about because a few really smart people developed methods of comparing current players with the careers of superstar players in the past.
MacDonald is a good fighter; the sky is the limit for the kid. But here's the thing: Comparing him—or any other young fighter, for that matter—with Georges St-Pierre is incredibly unfair.
St-Pierre is a fantastic fighter—one of the best the sport has ever known. Despite many injury problems, he's had a great career by any measure. It's not a stretch to say that he's the best welterweight in the history of the sport, and he'll be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame the very moment he decides to walk away.
MacDonald is still just 22 years old. Yes, he's good. Yes, he has plenty of potential. And yes, he may ultimately surpass St-Pierre's accomplishments. But let's give him time to develop, come into his own and establish himself as a contender in his own right, before we start trying to compare him to St-Pierre.
Fighters live under enough pressure as it is without having to deal with being compared to one of the legends of the sport.
Jeremy Botter is a Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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