Sorry MMA fans, you've got Rory MacDonald figured all wrong.
During his UFC on FOX 5 bout with BJ Penn, MacDonald seemed to be adding insult to injury when he started imitating the "Ali Shuffle" in the middle of the fight.
By the time MacDonald apparently started to taunt his veteran opponent, Penn was already far behind on the judges' scorecards and barely weathering the assault. This caused some fans to call out MacDonald for unnecessarily bullying the former two-division champion.
However, Firas Zahabi, MacDonald's head trainer at the Tristar Gym, tells Sherdog that really wasn't the case at all:
"I can't believe people perceived it that way," Zahabi told the Sherdog Radio Network's "Beatdown" show on Wednesday. "It makes no sense to me because the shuffle is a technique. It's a way to draw your opponent's attention. Rory did the technique three or four times, and he followed it up with a superman punch. It's exactly what we drilled. He was trained to do that. He was not just doing it to showboat. He was doing it to execute a strike."
According to Zahabi, he was actually worried that MacDonald wouldn't be dominant enough against Penn, due to the "aura" around "The Prodigy" and his legacy.
That's exactly why Zahabi didn't want MacDonald to show Penn too much respect, saying that it was all part of a game plan to utilize the Canadian's natural athletic abilities.
Regardless, MacDonald cruised to an extremely one-sided decision win against Penn, beating him up so badly that referee Herb Dean nearly stopped the fight standing in the second round.
Currently, MacDonald is rumored to be heading towards a fight with former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit in a rematch of their UFC 155 "Fight of the Night" bout from June 2010. In their first match, Condit rallied late in the third round to finish MacDonald by TKO with only seven seconds left on the fight clock.