The UFC's biggest prospect at the 170-pound division, Rory MacDonald, may have just sealed his fate as one of the most hated fighters in the company.
MacDonald had his back up against the wall when it came to fan support as he went up against one of the most beloved fighters in the sport, but his attitude throughout the week at press conferences and during interviews certainly didn't help his cause.
A confident MacDonald gave some respect to his opponent, whom he considered one of his idols growing up, but was very confident coming into this fight and had no problem letting everyone know it. Still, it wasn't what he said that will be remembered, but rather what he did during the fight.
While cementing his place in the top 10 of the division with a dominant victory over Penn, MacDonald took things to a controversial place when he began to taunt the future UFC Hall of Famer.
Dancing his feet around like Muhammad Ali, MacDonald humiliated Penn, delivering punishing strikes between the taunts. While some of the crowd seemed to get behind him throughout the bout because of the success he was having, the Twitterverse was up in arms about the disrespect that MacDonald showed to one of the all-time greats in the sport.
Hearing a lot of criticism of Rory MacDonald re: attitude, personality, etc. I shall remain quiet.— E. Spencer Kyte (@spencerkyte) December 9, 2012
Best analysis I've seen of Rory MacDonald is that he is acting like Ryan Gosling in Drive.— Liver Kick (@LiverKickdotcom) December 9, 2012
— Mitch Westphal (@MitchWestphal) December 9, 2012
While fighters like the Diaz brothers, Chael Sonnen, Tito Ortiz and even BJ Penn have made names for themselves as trash-talkers who get under their opponents' skin, the decision for MacDonald to make his transition into a the MMA equivalent of a "heel" is a dangerous one.
While he may grow into a big star in the sport, he's also risking losing quite a few fans in the process. Then again, as Chael Sonnen has shown, it doesn't always matter if the fans love you. Sometimes it pays to be the guy who everyone wants to see get his butt kicked.