UFC 174 Results: Fights for Rory MacDonald to Take Next
UFC 174 suffered from a lack of memorable moments, but one takeaway from Saturday's card has to be the performance put on by Rory MacDonald.
For three rounds he made it look like he was working a heavy bag in the Tristar Gym facilities. He was barely breathing heavily even after the fight concluded. He also managed to score a takedown on Tyron Woodley, one of the most accomplished amateur wrestlers in the division.
The win was MacDonald's second in a row since dropping a split decision to Robbie Lawler. It was also a win over a top-five opponent, which means the Canadian could find himself in a title fight the next time he steps foot in the Octagon.
But if the UFC chooses to make him face another top-ranked opponent, he has a few options available as well.
Although Rory MacDonald is still trying to remove the images of his "strategic" performances against Jake Ellenberger and Robbie Lawler, the fact remains he's won back-to-back fights over top competition.
Wins over Demian Maia (currently ranked No. 8) and Tyron Woodley (No. 3) certainly give MacDonald enough of a resume to challenge for the UFC title.
There's also the backstory of Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, MacDonald's training partner. While GSP was able to defeat Hendricks, many viewers felt that Hendricks had won.
Perhaps MacDonald could get a clear-cut victory over the hard-hitting welterweight?
On paper, MacDonald and Hendricks match up very well. Hendricks has excellent wrestling, imposing strength and devastating knockout power. He also showed in his win over Lawler that he can be a technical striker as well.
MacDonald is one of the most technical fighters in the division and possesses a variety of offensive options. As we saw at UFC 174, MacDonald's wrestling is still very good.
Hendricks vs. MacDonald would be an easy sell in Canada, something the UFC desperately needs after St-Pierre's retirement.
Winner of Hector Lombard vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Top 10 welterweights are set to collide when Hector Lombard and Dong Hyun Kim face each other in August.
Lombard is on a roll after dropping down to welterweight. He completely wrecked Nate Marquardt at UFC 166 and then perhaps won back some popularity from the fans by taking out Jake Shields.
Kim is also on a hot streak as well. He's riding a four-fight upswing with the last two wins coming by way of spectacular knockout.
If Rory MacDonald won't be fighting for the title in his next fight, it would make sense to pair him with the winner from this fight. For one, he hasn't faced Lombard or Kim previously in his career.
The fight would also make sense for the career of Lombard or Kim. If Lombard beats Kim, he'll need a top-five opponent to validate his status as a title contender. If Kim wins, he'll also need a top opponent, given that most of his victories have come against middling competition.
On paper, Lombard would appear to be the tougher matchup for MacDonald. Lombard's takedown defense is one of the best in the division, and he also possesses heavy hands. He could also utilize his judo game to control the fight much the way he did against Shields.
Kim vs. MacDonald would seem to favor the Canadian in nearly everyone's mind. MacDonald has faced some of the division's best, while Kim has faced mostly average fighters during his current hot streak. Kim's newfound love of the knockout could make things interesting, but I believe MacDonald has the skills and game plan to counter that.
Winner of Matt Brown vs. Robbie Lawler
The winner of this contest is supposed to get a title shot, but how many times have we seen title shots be promised, only to not be delivered?
If Robbie Lawler gets past Matt Brown next month, the UFC will likely be eager to get Lawler back into a title match, and who could blame the promotion?
He has been one of the most intriguing stories since returning to the Octagon. Whereas most fighters are crashing back to earth or struggling to stay relevant at his age, the 32-year-old is still fighting at an elite level.
Johny Hendricks and Lawler had an instant classic for their first matchup, making a rematch an easy sell. But perhaps the UFC has other plans for Hendricks, or perhaps he suffers a setback in his recovery from biceps surgery?
If that's the case, the UFC could pair up Lawler and Rory MacDonald again. Although their fight occurred recently, it's pretty clear that MacDonald isn't the same fighter when he lost to Lawler in November 2013. The Canadian is still as calculating as ever, but he's also been more aggressive in his recent battles with Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley.
The fight also makes sense if Lawler wants to stay busy, because it would be a fight against a top-five opponent, which would cement his status as the No. 1 contender.
However, those plans could be foiled by Lawler's opponent in July.
Brown is on an incredible run, winning his last seven fights inside the Octagon. He brings an exciting style that has won post-fight bonuses in his last three contests. He may not be known for being great in one specific area, but he is pretty darn good in every area.
If MacDonald is still struggling to find that killer instinct that evaded him during his recent contests, Brown would help him find it with his all-out attack.