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Parnell: Rory MacDonald heading for the top

Kelowna trained Rory MacDonald looks to be reaching for the pinnacle of his sport. - Josh Hedges/UFC
Kelowna trained Rory MacDonald looks to be reaching for the pinnacle of his sport.
— image credit: Josh Hedges/UFC

Here in the Capital News sports department, we get a lot of calls and information coming to us about the next great thing, kids that are going to be the next Gretzky or the next Pele or the next Olympian in their sport.

And that's cool. We love to cover young athletes who are having success in their sport.

It's what we do.

But we can also count on one hand the number of those "can't miss" kids that have actually made it to the very top of their game as adults. And that's OK. Sometimes expectations are a touch high (hello parents), and other times great athletes who toil in amateur sports just tire of the endless chase of greatness and move on.

But there appears to be an exception to that general rule and he comes in the form of a now hulking beast by the name of Rory MacDonald.

When I started writing sports stories in Kelowna, MacDonald was maybe 15 and was a member at Toshido Mixed Martial Arts.

He was destined for big things, we were told, and like a lot of athletes, we started to follow his career through minor bouts to signing a five fight deal in the UFC that made him the organization's youngest competitior and now into a well known rising star in the UFC.

At 23, MacDonald is living up to the hype.

Last weekend MacDonald made mince meat out of UFC legend BJ Penn, throttling one of the legends of the sport in a one-sided match that continued to establish MacDonald as a force.

He was huge, dominating and mean in improving his record to 14-1 and continuing to climb the ladder of the UFC.

To get to the top, you have to face adversity. And MacDonald did that in his third pro fight when Carlos Condit put a bad beating on the kid from Kelowna (by way of Quesnel).

MacDonald had that fight in the bag after two rounds, but got tagged in the third and ended up on the wrong side of TKO loss. It changed him as a fighter and immediately after his win over Penn, MacDonald vowed for his revenge.

"There is a guy that humiliated me a couple years ago and I want my revenge," he told the audience in Seattle last weekend. "Carlos Condit, I want a rematch. Accept my challenge and I am going to get my revenge."

Well this week the UFC made it official and MacDonald will get his chance and will fight Condit in Montreal in March at what will be UFC 158.

Condit is 28-6 and lost to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in his last fight.

If MacDonald does indeed get his revenge, he appears to be on track to eventually getting a title fight in the UFC.

Not everyone likes Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC, a sport and organization that has become one of the biggest in the world.

But to watch a kid that trained and grew up in Kelowna, rising to the top of his sport, is pretty cool. Those stories  don't come along all that often. So let's enjoy it.

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