For a 22-year-old fighter Rory MacDonald has had one hell of a run, compiling a record of 13-1 since making his professional MMA debut in 2005. Coming along with that impressive record has been the talk that MacDonald is a champion in the making. MacDonald’s impressive second-round TKO victory over Che Mills at UFC 145 did little to change anyone’s mind regarding McDonald’s bright future in the UFC.
MacDonald carried a 9-0 record into his UFC debut—a fight against Mike Guymon. Despite being dropped to one knee by a hard right hand from Guymon, MacDonald kept his composure and went on to earn a first-round submission victory.
In his next fight, the UFC gave him a bout against former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit. For two rounds, MacDonald controlled the fight. However, in the third round, Condit was able to take control when the fight went to the ground.
Condit, perhaps sensing he needed a stoppage to gain the victory, laid into MacDonald with some heavy striking, eventually earning the stoppage with seven seconds remaining in the fight.
After the fight, Condit, while being interviewed in the cage by Joe Rogan, said, “Rory’s a great fighter, he’s got a lot of great fights in front of him. I’m sure he’ll come back from this.”
Condit’s words proved to be prophetic, because comeback MacDonald did. In his next fight, a bout against former winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Nate Diaz, MacDonald took things to another level. During the third round, MacDonald tossed Diaz around the cage with ease, delivering three impressive supplexes on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
The victory sent MacDonald onto a fight with Mike Pyle. MacDonald earned a stoppage victory before the first round had expired. The performance also led Joe Rogan to proclaim that MacDonald “may have more potential” than UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
That brings us up to this past Saturday’s UFC 145 where MacDonald faced Mills. Mills used his heavy hands to hurt MacDonald early in the first round, but what that led to was a MacDonald takedown. Once on the ground, MacDonald unleashed a torrent of strikes that didn’t cease until the horn sounded to end the round.
MacDonald wasted no time putting Mills in the exact same position in the second stanza, taking him down with ease just 25 seconds into the round. Once on the ground, MacDonald again took total control, delivering strikes whenever an opening became available and when Mills gave MacDonald his back, that opening became huge, and MacDonald finished Mills via TKO.
The victory over Mills showed a fighter that's mature beyond his years and ready to make big waves in the welterweight division, but it’s most likely far too early to declare MacDonald the next Georges St-Pierre or a future champion. Declarations such as those can have negative results, such as inflation of the ego and/or crushing disappointment when those expectations go unrealized.
Perhaps, some of that ego inflation has already occurred in MacDonald as he recently told Sportsnet 590, "I think I could beat anybody in the division right now. I'm right at the top level."
Will Rory MacDonald be better than GSP?
It’s good to have confidence, but at the same time, dangerous to believe the hype one hears about oneself. Whatever the case is with MacDonald, talk like that could easily put a target on the back of the young fighter. The welterweight division has plenty of fighters who would like to take his words and use them for fuel in order to prove him wrong.
The reality of the situation is that while MacDonald may feel he can defeat everyone in the 170-pound division, he has plenty of time to advance up the rankings and work his way slowly through the division. The UFC would be well served to match him up against higher-level competition with each coming fight. There’s no reason to rush this kid; he’s only 22 years old and has a long, bright career ahead of him.
The potential problem facing the UFC is that MacDonald is a teammate and training partner of current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre—a fighter he has said that he would never fight.
“You can’t dance with the devil. I didn’t get into (mixed martial arts) for money...I’m not taking a fight against Georges. We’re training partners and help each other get better...I stick to my principles. I believe in friendship. I have to think more tomorrow and 10 years from now."
While those words are eerily similar to statements that were made by Jon Jones and Rashad Evans not too long ago, at this point, there's no reason to believe that they are not true, even if UFC president Dana White has his doubts that they will remain true for long.
White recently spoke to MMAJunkie.com, saying, "I guarantee you if Rory looks at GSP's [expletive] bank account, he'll want to beat the [expletive] out of him.”
MacDonald’s climb through the ranks has been impressive, but he still has a way to go to get to the rarefied air that St-Pierre currently resides in. There’s no doubt that through his recent wins and statements, he's on his way to becoming a marked man in the welterweight division. The question now is will he rise to the occasion, or will he become another “could have been” in the annals of mixed martial arts?
However things turn out, you can rest assured that both fans and detractors will tune in to see Rory MacDonald’s rise or fall.