Rory MacDonald is one of the most popular up-and-comers in the UFC. He's widely regarded as a future title challenger, if not a future title holder, in the promotion. These notions are in large part due to the fact that MacDonald trains at the world renowned Tristar gym in Montreal.
The gym's head trainer, Firas Zahabi, has trained numerous top fighters, including Georges St-Pierre. However, Zahabi's training methods don't seem to coincide with MacDonald's belief of doing things "his way."
"I'm going to make changes in how I prepare for fights and to do things my way from now on," MacDonald said on an episode of UFC Tonight (via MMA Mania).
MacDonald believes the change in training methods will allow him to fight on a more regular basis and avoid injuries.
"It's going to let me fight a lot more. I'm going to take fights on shorter notice. I'm learning from the older guys and see how they prepare for fights, like the two months of training camp. I'm tired of that. I'll fight more often."
MacDonald's model of thought is something all fight fans can appreciate—less training and more fights. The only problem is that it doesn't make any sense for a guy of MacDonald's caliber to follow that business model.
Yes, by not going through such long training camps MacDonald is less likely to be injured, but his standing in the UFC is not to the point where he needs to take fights on short notice on a regular basis. That is reserved for veterans who need the paycheck or prospects who need the exposure.
I can't comment on MacDonald's financial situation, but he definitely doesn't need the help getting his name out there. He's firmly established as a star in the division and one of its most exciting competitors.
If he does take these fights on shorter notice, MacDonald is going to put quite a lot of stress on his body by attempting to make it "peak" at the right time. As we've seen in the past, short-notice fights don't always turn out so great for the men involved.
But let's get back to MacDonald doing things "his way." The Canadian fighter said he will change his training methods but isn't leaving Tristar.
"I will still be training at Tristar. But I have to do things my way. At the end of the day, I'm the one getting in the cage and taking the risk and I'm the one making the final call," MacDonald said.
That quote seems to point to MacDonald training with the guys at Tristar but not going along with an overall game plan from Zahabi.
Does that mean if Zahabi points out a weakness in MacDonald's game that the fighter won't respond to the coaching advice? Or merely that MacDonald will pick who he trains with and how hard he trains?
There's a lot of questions with MacDonald changing his training regimen—too many questions for someone at this point in his career. MacDonald should have a team firmly behind him while fine tuning his game to insert himself into the "mix" of title contenders.
MacDonald will now face numerous questions about what his training camp involves. He will also have to prove the worth of his new way in a December match against BJ Penn, one of the best fighters of all time.
I understand MacDonald's method of thinking. After all, nobody knows these fighter's bodies better than themselves, but I still worry about his relationship with Tristar's trainers. It's always nice to do things your own way, but nobody has achieved great success in MMA without a solid supporting cast around them.