The co-main event did not please fans or UFC President Dana White, with MacDonald sticking to a snapping jab and good movement rather than attacking his opponent. Zahabi, while aware of the frustration, was clear that Rory had the right plan.
“I think Rory neutralized the wrestling well and outboxed him,” said Zahabi. “Jake had to roll the dice and step in hard. Rory was controlling the distance well and did what he had to do to win.”
When asked if MacDonald was being overly cautious, the coach was blunt in stating “If you watch a lot of Jake Ellenberger fights, you would be cautious too.”
Zahabi noted that when training for an opponent like Ellenberger, the approach has to be different than with other fighters.
“[Jake] doesn't just knock people out, he breaks their bones when he hits them. This is a very dangerous guy. You're fighting a Tyson. You've got to fight him smart, you have to fight him calculated. It is not the same fight you would have if you fight a guy with normal human strength.”
Zahabi was willing to admit that MacDonald did have room to improve his stand-up game.
“There are so many things we need to fix. I think there are a lot of shots he could have landed. When you hesitate it is because you are not sure and you haven't done it enough. He needs to be limited on the combinations he does in sparring, and focus on these combinations that should have come out but didn't come out in this fight.”
There had been rumors that MacDonald and gym-mate Georges St-Pierre may be on course to face one another for the welterweight belt. With the lacking performance at UFC on Fox 8, MacDonald is likely in line for another contender bout. Meanwhile, Zahabi will focus his own attention on GSP's upcoming bout with Johnny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November.