At UFC on Fox 8, Rory MacDonald bested Jake Ellenberger by unanimous decision in a battle to determine the newest inductee into the UFC's small cadre of title contenders at 170 pounds.
For the most part, the fight boiled down to a dull kickboxing match. MacDonald (15-1) stayed within himself and attacked right down the pipe with jabs and the occasional kick. Ellenberger (29-7) looked for the counter and the clinch, but hesitated often and had trouble getting inside. MacDonald held a substantial 3.5-inch reach advantage, but at UFC on Fox 8 it seemed to be even more.
Ellenberger did score the fight's only takedown in the final minute of the fight, but it was too little, too late.
What we'll remember about this fight
The road to this fight unfolded before the backdrop of a semi-heated and thoroughly entertaining Twitter feud between the two. Perhaps as a result, the two didn't touch gloves at the beginning. MacDonald was on the receiving end of several verbal jabs, but in the cage he chose to ply the literal version, maintaining total composure and coldly executing a winning strategy that frustrated Ellenberger from horn to horn.
What we learned about Rory MacDonald
"The Canadian Psycho" is alive and well. Those who wanted flying knees of rage were likely disappointed, but the fightbot that is 24-year-old MacDonald did what he needed to do to win a fight. No more, no less. No emotions, no mistakes. And it seems that's classic MacDonald, regardless of any pre-fight friction that may develop. His performance was reminiscent, in its feel if not its action, of mentor Georges St-Pierre's cold dispatching of heated rival Nick Diaz back at UFC 158.
What we learned about Jake Ellenberger
This is largely because of MacDonald's physical advantages and tactical intelligence, but Ellenberger showed he can have difficulty imposing his will or initiating action at the elite level. It's not his first boring fight (see Hieron, Jay), but it is unusual for him, and it was the first time I can recall him fighting conservatively without choosing to do so.
What's next for MacDonald
MacDonald reiterated just this week that he won't face his training teammate and welterweight champ St-Pierre. He may want to reconsider (Dana White certainly thinks he should). If he doesn't budge, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get the winner between Martin Kampmann and the last man to beat MacDonald, Carlos Condit. Before getting injured this past winter, MacDonald was scheduled for a March rematch with Condit, and he has publicly and extensively lobbied for the matchup.
What's next for Ellenberger
The loser between Condit and Kampmann. Those two face off on August 28 at UFC Fight Night 27 and are coincidentally the only two men to defeat Ellenberger in the UFC Octagon before Saturday night.
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