Rory MacDonald's jab-jab-jab strategy didn't exactly impress the Seattle crowd. (USA Today)
SEATTLE – UFC president Dana White was in no mood to mince words after the much-hyped UFC on FOX 8 welterweight showdown between Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger turned into the most effective sleep aid since Tylenol PM.
"That fight sucked so bad," White told reporters after MacDonald shuffled and jabbed his way to a unanimous decision victory over a non-engaging Ellenberger in Saturday night's co-feature bout at Key Arena.
The bout on network television was supposed to be a showcase in which the next legitimate contender to champion Georges St-Pierre emerged. Ellenberger talked so much trash leading up to the fight – promising to knock MacDonald cold – that the hype eclipsed the main event flyweight title bout between Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga.
But both Ellenberger, who made his reputation as a heavy hitter, and MacDonald, who picked apart B.J. Penn last December in his last fight, forgot to show up. The bout was drowned out in the jeers of a beery Seattle crowd, and White's Twitter blew up with fans angry the bout hadn't lived up to expectations.
If White had hair on his head, he no doubt would have been pulling it out as he sat cageside while the fiasco unfolded. Afterwards, he directed the bulk of his venom at the 24-year-old MacDonald (15-1), who took a four-fight win streak into the evening and was poised to vault into stardom with another impressive victory.
"Tonight is the night that everyone was excited for," White said. "If you're Rory, and you're that good, and you're that talented, you impose your will on him, and you show the world, not only do I belong in the top five, I should fight Georges St-Pierre. He should have people screaming for him to fight Georges St-Pierre. That's how it all works."
White, of course, was venting the frustrations of a promoter who just watched a potential million-dollar headliner take a big step backwards. A more neutral observer could point out that MacDonald took a clear path to victory when it was it presented. MacDonald shut down all Ellenberger's angles and answered with an effective jab every time the Omaha native came after him, which wasn't very often.
"I did what I was supposed to do," said MacDonald. "I kept up my end. He's a counterpuncher and a very explosive one. I took my opportunities, and he wasn't coming in at the right times and just staying back. He wasn't engaging. I was playing my angles and waiting for my opportunities like I always do. He's a smart fighter. I felt I did the right thing. I think I needed a few more minutes and I would have had the finish."
[UFC on Fox 8: Demetrious Johnson refuses to take easy road against John Moraga]
White, though, was in no mood to hear it, particularly after Johnson followed the MacDonald-Ellenberger bout by showing the world the true definition of a tactical masterpiece in his victory over Moraga.
"Don't come in and say my fight was great, it was tactical and this and that," White said. "And I belong in the top 10 and talk this [expletive] and don't go in there and try to put him away. I don't think he performed, I don't think he did anything. ... I don't think he moves down the ladder, but do you think anyone is screaming to see him fight again?"
In Ellenberger's case, there's really no way to sugarcoat it: He blew his big chance. After talking a huge game, Ellenberger, who had scored two Knockout of the Night bonuses and one fight of the night award over the previous two years, didn't show any offense until a takedown in the final minute.
Where was that over the first 14 minutes of the fight?
"You know, I'm more disappointed in myself," Ellenberger (29-7) said. "It's been, it wasn't my night. I didn't have a good night and I didn't pull the trigger. I'm going to leave it like that."
The channel-clicker of a fight occurred during a period in which White has made a big deal out of wanting to see his fighters go out and earn fight bonuses and promotions up the card, rather than play it safe and win in a boring manner. Instead, MacDonald's fight with Ellenberger turned into a "how not to" case study.
"You guys want to talk about fighter pay, let's talk about fighter pay," White said. "Everyone on this card, whether it's your first time in the UFC or you're Georges St-Pierre or Anderson Silva, you have the opportunity to make those bonuses. You want more money? [Expletive] right there. Go get the money. Go out there and let people know who you are and have people talking about you tomorrow, you know what I mean?"
While Ellenberger's day as a featured fighter is likely done – in his previous big headline spot, he was finished by Martin Kampmann – MacDonald is a different case. Many headliners have had their one outlier, a lackluster fight on their path to the top.
White just hopes that the perplexing Canadian uses Saturday night's fight as a learning experience.
"Rory's one of the best in the world. He didn't look it tonight. But the fact of the matter is he's one of the best in the world, and this will be a learning experience for him, hopefully. Because you don't want to put on too many performances like that. It's not good for anybody. It's not good for him, it's not good for us, it's not good for the sport. Not good for FOX. Definitely not good for pay-per-view."
Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter @davedoylemma
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