Something seems familiar here.
Young MMA fighter moves to all-star training camp and begins training with an established superstar in the same weight division he competes in. When asked if the two would ever consider fighting, both fighters talk of brotherhood and of how they would never step into the cage and face each other. But something strange starts to happen: The young fighter starts climbing the ranks, and all signs point to a fight with the more veteran fighter, and the “nevers” start to turn to “we’ll sees.”
And that’s when things get difficult.
We saw how this scenario played out between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans when Jones joined Jackson’s MMA, and now we’re seemingly headed down a similar road with UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and top-ranked training partner at Tristar Gym Rory MacDonald.
In December of last year, MacDonald, speaking at the UFC on Fox 5 post-fight press conference (via MMAFighting.com), said:
I don’t know. I’m not there yet. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I don’t feel that I need to fight Georges, I don’t think it’s going to happen. It won’t happen. Me and him are friends, he’s done a lot for me, I’m very grateful for that. I don’t want to stab him in the back and I don’t want to wreck my opportunity training at Tristar.
That “It won’t happen” stance may be softening a bit. MacDonald, who is set to face Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8 in July, recently spoke to Alchemist Radio and said: “We’ll figure it out when the day comes. We’re not at that bridge yet and we’ll do what we have to do as teammates and figure out what works best. When the time comes we’ll settle the matter inside the gym respectfully.” Clearly missing from MacDonald’s recent comments are the outright dismissal he made a few months ago.
What happens if MacDonald and St-Pierre win?
If MacDonald does get past Ellenberger and St-Pierre gets past his next expected opponent, Johny Hendricks, you can bet that the conversation will take place inside Tristar. If and when that talk does take place, the outcome will have significant repercussions for the fighters as well as the UFC.
If MacDonald and St-Pierre decide they cannot fight, the options are probably pretty limited for St-Pierre. One option would be retirement. That scenario seems very unlikely and would be very shocking, since St-Pierre is still at the top of his game at 31 years of age.
Other options for St-Pierre would be to relinquish his title and move weight divisions, but where would he move?
The UFC and many fans would love to see St-Pierre move up to middleweight and meet UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a superfight. However there is another option, one St-Pierre seems more open to, and that’s the move down to lightweight.
On a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience (via MMAJunkie.com), St-Pierre said: “It would be easier for me to go fight at 155 than fighting at 185. I would be more at my weight naturally at 155.”
If Ellenberger and Hendricks have any say, the conversation between St-Pierre and MacDonald will not be needed, but if the two Canadian fighters do earn wins in their next bouts, oh to be a fly on the wall inside Tristar.