"You must suffer me to go my own dark way."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Who is Rory MacDonald?
It's an interesting question because, while the young Canadian fighter has been in the UFC for three years now, he's quickly gone from soft-spoken to outspoken in a matter of the last 12 months. Gone are the days where MacDonald defers to the standard cliché answers when talking about opponents, and now he uses words like annihilating, hurting and destroying the man standing across from him in the Octagon.
Has MacDonald made a conscious decision to be more blunt and honest when asked for his opinion, or is that just a new persona to gain attention?
"I guess I'm just reacting to what's in front of me and just speaking my mind. Whether it's just me being more comfortable with media, or it's just being out of frustration. I'm just trying to be honest, I don't want to use energy up giving fake answers," MacDonald told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview.
It's easy to notice that MacDonald does have a different demeanor now than he did less than a year ago when he was part of the co-main event against Che Mills at UFC 145. Even more noticeable is the way MacDonald dresses, and no fighter has received more inquiries about their wardrobe than this rising UFC star.
MacDonald isn't sure why people seem to care so much about the way he dresses, and believes that should have nothing to do with how he's perceived as a person or a fighter.
"I'm getting older, I'm a young man. It's a level of professionalism, putting a professional image forth, I guess. I just like to dress that way, I don't really think it's a big deal to tell you the truth," said MacDonald.
"I think it's completely unnecessary why people want to know why I dress in a suit at a press conference if I'm at a fight. They should ask questions about my fight, not my suit."
As social networking becomes the sound box for fighters, fans and media, MacDonald has also been paid more and more attention to lately, not only because he started dressing differently, but because he's developed a sort of cold gaze whenever he's talking about a fight, and it's drawn comparisons to American Psycho, a famous cult classic film starring Christian Bale.
The lead character in the movie, Patrick Bateman, is a well-dressed, buttoned-down stock broker by day, but then, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he unleashes a psychopathic side that's fed by only by a nightly bloodlust.
Even MacDonald's next opponent noticed because, recently, Carlos Condit, who faces the young prodigy at UFC 158, had a little fun on Twitter saying, "I can't believe Bryce prefers Van Patten's card to mine. I'm so EMBARRASSED and HUMILIATED". The quote stems from a famous scene in American Psycho and he appeared to be poking fun at MacDonald's new attitude after he used those words—embarrassed and humiliated—to describe how he felt when losing to Condit in 2010, and how he would turn those emotions around and unleash them on the former WEC champion when they will rematch on March 16.
"I guess it's kind of funny sometimes, I guess there's similarities," MacDonald said when asked about the American Psycho comparisons. "Not trying to be that, but whatever. I have a sense of humor for that kind of stuff. Some things, it's just not funny to me, but some people find it funny, so, whatever."
That's the real key to understanding who Rory MacDonald is—he's not trying to emulate anybody or take on a certain personality—he's just being himself more and more these days, and he's growing up in front of the camera. Most people would readily admit that the way they are at 23 is different than how they were at 18, fresh out of high school.
MacDonald literally developed with eyes on him at all times, and he's just growing from a boy to a man.
So whether you call him American Psycho or tell him that he's dressed like an extra from AMC's hit show Mad Men, MacDonald really doesn't care. It’s not going to change who he is on the inside, and it's definitely not going to make him lose his killer instinct in the cage.
"I don't really care if people talk, I just want them to watch my fights. I'm really not in this for press or a popularity contest, I'm just here to fight. The more people that are interested in the technical side of things in the actual fight are better for the sport, in my opinion. I'm not here to try and impress anyone or make anyone mad, I'm just going in there and doing what I love, and hopefully people can appreciate what I'm there for, and I'm not trying to be Hollywood star or a Hollywood personality or something," said MacDonald.
"So when people say things like, 'Oh he lacks personality,' I really don't give a s—t. I'm here to fight, that's really what it comes down to."
Rory MacDonald certainly has that part figured out, and if he can beat Carlos Condit at UFC 158, it doesn't matter what he says, how he says it or how he happens to dress at a press conference. A victory will put MacDonald on the precipice of a potential title shot, and if fighting is truly his life, that's the only thing that matters.
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted