Rory MacDonald made the call no fighter wants to make a few weeks back when he had to bow out of his co-main event fight at UFC 158 against Carlos Condit.
The Canadian fighter suffered a neck injury while training, and there was just no way he could prepare sufficiently to face Condit in mid-March. So with a heavy heart, MacDonald withdrew from the fight, but like most athletes, his desire to return to action outweighed his body's readiness for the activity.
MacDonald suffered a setback as he tried to return to training too soon, so now he's following a much stricter regimen as he looks to step into the Octagon again later this year.
"It's day to day working with his coaches and doctors. We'll see where he is week to week, but it's not anything that will keep him out, I don't think for too long. Rory will be fighting top talent again very soon, but it's honestly one of those things where we're evaluating it every day to see how he's improving," said Lex McMahon, MacDonald's manager from Alchemist MMA.
"We're making sure that when he's ready, he's ready."
According to McMahon, right now the focus is on getting MacDonald ready at the pace his body can handle and on not pushing things too much. While the neck injury wasn't too severe, it was significant enough that his team doesn't want to take any chances or push him into a fight before he's ready.
When MacDonald does return, a much different welterweight division will be waiting to greet him. Following the events of UFC 158, MacDonald's teammate Georges St-Pierre will likely be facing Johny Hendricks, his last opponent Carlos Condit is coming off a loss and Jake Ellenberger made a major statement with a knockout win on the same card over Nate Marquardt.
McMahon isn't ready to start thinking about matchups for MacDonald no matter how much interest there is in any certain fight. MacDonald has sought a rematch with Condit for quite some time after suffering a loss to him in 2010, but right now the priority is health first and then signing to fight.
"We'll see what the UFC wants and where Carlos is at. I think that's premature," McMahon stated. "Our focus is really on making sure Rory is healthy and ready to fight again soon."
No timelines have been made for MacDonald to return because his team wants to prevent setbacks this time around. The hope is for MacDonald to shift back into high gear this summer and then start looking at potential opponents.
"My guess is he'll be fighting again at some point this summer," McMahon revealed. "It really is just predicated on how he is feeling and how quickly he recovers, but I think he'll be fine and you'll see him sooner rather than later."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.