Heading into his fifth fight in the UFC, Kelowna’s Rory MacDonald says he no longer feels like a newcomer to the sport.
Officials at the UFC also continue to be high on the 22-year-old MacDonald, as evidenced by his spot on the card for UFC 145 in Atlanta next week. MacDonald (12-1 overall, 3-1 in the UFC) will face England’s Che Mills in the co-main event at UFC 145 in Atlanta on April 21.
“I knew I belonged in the UFC after the Carlos Condit fight,” explained MacDonald, speaking of his only loss, a fight that earned fight of night honours at UFC 115. “After that I felt a little more experienced and comfortable.”
At 6-foot and 170 pounds, MacDonald has been pegged for mixed martial arts greatness almost since he took up the sport at 14-years-old, training in Kelowna with Toshido Fighting Arts.
After signing a five-fight deal with the UFC in 2011, MacDonald has lived up to the hype, getting raves from the UFC for his performance.
All the attention hasn’t fazed the calm welterweight, who now trains with Tristar out of Montreal, the same training group that Canadian legend Georges St. Pierre trains with.
“I think I got a lot of attention fast when I got to the UFC because of how I performed and my age,” said MacDonald, who is still the fourth youngest fighter in the UFC. “I was getting a lot of attention but I was prepared for it. Every fight has been increasing the amount of attention I’m getting from fans and media. I’m still comfortable with it. I know it’s just a matter of time before I’m fighting for the title and there is no added pressure.”
MacDonald now lives and trains in Montreal but hasn’t forgotten where he came from. The Quesnel born and Kelowna-raised fighter keeps in close touch with his former coach David Lea at Toshido and credits the Kelowna club for getting him his start in the sport.
“It was very important in my youth that I started training with David,” said MacDonald. “I give him all the credit in the world. He gave me an understanding of mixed martial arts and taught me how to apply the techniques and to bring it all together in one package. He had a major influence on my mindset and still does. He made the me the fighter and the person I am today.”
And that fighter and person is one that the UFC has pegged as one of its rising stars.
Perhaps it is his honesty, his steely resolve and confidence that makes MacDonald an attractive fighter in the UFC.
After losing to Condit, a bruised and battered MacDonald told a live TV audience he just got his butt whipped but he would be back. MacDonald then followed his first loss with a win over Mike Guymon in a first round submission.
And now he is set for his biggest fight, hitting the cage just before the main event at the Atlanta UFC card against Che Mills, an English fighter with a 14-4 MMA record.
Instead of focussing on who he is stepping into the cage with, MacDonald, now nicknamed Ares, prefers to look inward heading into a fight.
“I don’t like to do too much research on guys I am fighting,” he said. “I know very little about him. In all my fights I like to train myself and get myself to my peak performance and just adjust when iI get into the cage. I just like to react to what is coming. The same as in life, I like to live in the moment.”
That next moment for Rory MacDonald will take place on live Pay Per View at UFC 145 in Atlanta next weekend.