6 Fights for Rory MacDonald to Take When He Returns from Injury

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2013

6 Fights for Rory MacDonald to Take When He Returns from Injury

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    Rory MacDonald was supposed to have a rematch with Carlos Condit at UFC 158. He was supposed to obtain retribution for his one professional loss by evening the score with the man who put the inaugural blemish on his permanent record. 

    But alas, the fight never happened. While training, MacDonald suffered a neck injury and was forced to withdraw from the contest, leaving Condit to fight Johny Hendricks instead.

    MacDonald's recovery is now well underway, however, and he will be looking to return to the Octagon sometime this summer

    Here we'll look at some potential welterweight candidates that may welcome him back to the Octagon. 

Robbie Lawler

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    Lawler made his triumphant return to the Octagon in February, scoring an upset knockout over Josh Koscheck in the first round of their welterweight duel.

    Now it is onward and upward for "Ruthless," who will most certainly be ready for another tussle by the summer.

    In MacDonald, Lawler would find an opponent that could catapult him into the title mix should he emerge victorious. And the pairing would likely grasp the attention of the MMA community to the point where it could function as a pay-per-view main card fight, even a co-main event.

    For MacDonald, Lawler provides a top 10 opponent, and the chance to get another meaningful win under his belt. He also arguably embodies the toughest striking threat MacDonald has ever seen, though that is up for debate.

Jake Ellenberger

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    Back in the spring of 2012, Ellenberger looked to be a single win from earning himself a shot at the welterweight title. A loss to Martin Kampmann changed that, and dispelled much of the hype surrounding him, but the American has rebounded nicely with consecutive wins, and is now back on the fringe of the division's title scene.

    For "The Juggernaut," a win over the likes of MacDonald would earn him an eliminator bout, at the very least. At most, it would provide him with a direct route to whoever the champion is in the fall. His exact prize would depend on what goes on this summer with a number of others clamoring for a title shot of their own.

    From the MacDonald perspective, Ellenberger is the highest-ranked opponent not already committed, save for Carlos Condit. A win would solidify his reputation as a future star, as well as a current title player.

Tarec Saffiedine

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    The UFC might hesitate to schedule a match between two of its up-and-coming stars, so this one isn't without issue.

    But on the other hand, they did throw MacDonald into the fire early in his UFC career, matching him up with Carlos Condit in just his second fight, and they also asked Saffiedine to debut with the promotion as a replacement for MacDonald against Condit.

    If they don't mind either MacDonald or Saffiedine fighting Condit so soon out of the gates, maybe they would be OK with them fighting each other.

    Saffiedine recently rose to prominence by defeating Nate Marquardt to become Strikeforce's last ever welterweight champion, an accolade he'll bring into the UFC. 

    He is primarily a stand-up specialist, though he has developed a solid submission game over the years. The biggest deficiency he has thus far displayed has been a lack of power, which has resulted in just one career knockout in 17 professional fights.

    Still, Saffiedine presents and interesting challenge for MacDonald, one that would be an equally big opportunity for he and his opponent as they continue their respective marches towards stardom.

Demian Maia

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    Since making the drop to 170, Maia has looked incredible in reeling off three straight wins, including two stoppages.

    The Brazilian's most recent W, a dominant decision over the since-fired Jon Fitch, raised him up the division's ladder and set him on course for a title shot. He still needs one more big win though, and a victory over MacDoanld would be an unmistakably big win.

    For Maia, MacDonald represents a path to a title shot, while Maia is, in turn, a grand opportunity for MacDonald. He would give the young Canadian the opportunity to add a beautiful feather to his cap and accelerate his career progression. 

Martin Kampmann

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    Kampmann's last effort was a losing one, but he remains a fixture as a top 10 welterweight. In fact, a couple wins in 2013 could set him up as a frontrunner to compete for the title early next year.

    A good place for Kampmann to start would be with MacDonald this summer, in a battle that could do wonders for the aspirations of either guy.

    MacDonald vs. Kampmann would be an intriguing match on the feet, though the wrestling lies decidedly with MacDonald. Still, it would provide "Ares" with what would be the toughest test he's faced since Carlos Condit, and would enable Kampmann to reenter the title picture immediately.

Carlos Condit

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    The UFC may hesitate to put Condit in such a dangerous position since he is coming off back-to-back defeats, but a fight with MacDonald would lend him a chance to rebound instantaneously.

    Condit vs. MacDonald was supposed to happen at UFC 158, but MacDonald's injury caused the UFC to shuffle the deck a bit, but it's better late than never, right? 

    It's a match MacDonald certainly wants, and one that could do big things for either fighter's career. The problem is, a loss either way is troubling.

    As mentioned, defeat for Condit would make three in a row, and maintaining a place near the top of the rankings in spite of such a streak is a difficult proposition for anyone, regardless of strength of schedule.

    For MacDonald, a loss would put him at 0-2 against Condit, which would entice the public to view "The Natural Born Killer" as his kryponite, and give the UFC pause before booking a third contest between the two.

    That could be an issue down the road for MacDonald, if Condit were to reposition himself as a No. 1 contender, or worse yet, win the title.