Dana White, the UFC president, was open about his plans for Rory MacDonald after his most recent performance. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, White mentioned that he wants to pit MacDonald against Robbie Lawler.
Both welterweights were involved at UFC on Fox 8, and each man walked away with solid wins. Lawler looked most impressive with a headkick KO over Bobby Voelker. MacDonald's performance left something to be desired, but the No. 3-ranked welterweight defeated No. 4-ranked Jake Ellenberger regardless.
Lawler, the No. 9-ranked welterweight, maintained his ranking with the win.
If the plan for MacDonald vs. Lawler pans out we will be treated to another top-10 welterweight clash with significant title implications on the line. Should the fight come to fruition, this is how the 170-pound scrap breaks down.
Lawler will want this to be a striking match, but he will be the underdog standing.
Lawler has good striking, good power and can be versatile, as he showed in his last outing. The problem is MacDonald is putting together a technically sound striking game that nullifies Lawler's strengths.
We could see a similar UFC on Fox 8 game plan implemented by MacDonald. His jab rendered Ellenberger ineffective. The same could happen against Lawler.
It is entirely possible MacDonald turns this in to a grappling affair to avoid Lawler's striking, but I don't believe he is at a disadvantage. MacDonald's technique rules the day.
This is another category where Lawler is competent, but MacDonald holds the advantage.
Lawler has solid wrestling, but it is unlikely he can take MacDonald down. On the other side, MacDonald can most likely dictate where this fight takes place. Training with the likes of GSP has helped his wrestling exponentially.
MacDonald blends his grappling with his striking flawlessly, and his takedown defense is on point.
Is it impossible for Lawler to take this category? No, but it isn't likely at all.
The Canadian is working on a clean sweep across all categories. He is more apt to submit Lawler than the other way around.
Lawler is competent on the ground, but he uses his skills more defensively than offensively. However, MacDonald can wear him down and find holes in his defense to submit him should the opportunity present itself.
MacDonald will also find himself in better position to finish.
In order to finish Lawler on the mat, it will have to come later in the fight. Early on, Lawler will have plenty of gas in the tank to defend. MacDonald would have to wait until Lawler has a mental lapse due to his cardio being pushed to the limit.
Lawler's X-Factor: Mixing It Up
MacDonald holds the advantage everywhere in this fight, but that doesn't mean Lawler isn't a live dog.
He has to mix things up. He can make MacDonald think about what he plans to do, and that opens up holes for Lawler to land his power shots. It may be his only shot.
If MacDonald forced him to be one-dimensional, the fight is over. MacDonald will easily defeat him. Lawler has to threaten with his wrestling, and then he can work on mixing in his strikes as MacDonald thinks about the takedowns.
MacDonald's X-Factor: The Clinch
The clinch may be the most important factor in this fight for MacDonald.
This eliminates the distance Lawler needs to fire off a big fight-altering strike, and it allows MacDonald to wear on Lawler over the course of the fight to make him less explosive. MacDonald can play the cardio game from the clinch.
Making Lawler work hard to get MacDonald off him will play well if the fight goes deep.
MacDonald is the real deal. Period.
Lawler is a great test for the young welterweight, but it is one he should pass with flying colors. This fight will merely help keep MacDonald active as he waits a potential title shot in 2014.
MacDonald will not want to risk getting hit with a clean shot by Lawler. He will turn this into a more grappling heavy fight that will wear on Lawler. Eventually, it will be too much for Lawler.
In the third round, MacDonald finishes. He will take a tired Lawler down and impose his will. He'll sink in a rear-naked choke, get the tap and celebrate another top-10 win. MacDonald is on the cusp of a title shot, and Lawler is just a placeholder.
Prediction: MacDonald defeats Lawler via submission in the third round