Rory MacDonald knew he was in for a serious fight the moment he etched his name on a contract opposite former welterweight champion B.J. Penn.
But it wasn't just because the two fighters would meet in the Octagon on Dec. 8 as part of the UFC on Fox 5 card. It also had to do with Penn's approach leading into certain fights where psychological warfare is as dangerous as any jab he throws at an opponent.
Penn doesn't mind poking and prodding at an opponent to get a response, but MacDonald says he's not playing into the games.
As he prepares for the fight, MacDonald has heard all the rumors about Penn putting together a star-studded training camp, and how he's in the best shape he's been in, in years. None of it matters to MacDonald because he's going to fight Penn the same regardless of his own training.
“I don't really care, I just see a body in front of me to tell you the truth. It doesn't matter if he's in shape or not. It's gonna be best for you guys if he's in shape, cause it will probably be a better fight,” MacDonald said recently at the UFC 154 Q&A.
As legendary a shadow as Penn casts on the sport for his numerous accolades and tremendous talent, MacDonald isn't going to let the Hawaiian get by on past accomplishments. In the here and now, MacDonald believes he's vastly superior to Penn in every facet of the game.
“I just think that I'm a better fighter. I'm not really scared to fight him anywhere. He's obviously very good on the ground, and a good striker; you have to be competent in all areas of mixed martial arts, and I am,” MacDonald said.
“I feel I'm a better striker, a better wrestler and better on the ground as far as MMA jiu-jitsu. Probably not straight jiu-jitsu because we all know what he's done there, but I feel in a straight mixed martial arts fight, I'm a little more well rounded than he is.”
MacDonald knows Penn can attack at any time, and that goes for outside the cage as well.
No, MacDonald isn't concerned that Penn is going to jump him on the street, but believes the former champion's insistence on pre-fight drug testing is just another tactic the former champion is using to get into his head before the fight goes down.
MacDonald has said in the past that the testing is “annoying” but he's dealing with it, and passing with flying colors.
To hear MacDonald tell it, however, tests or no tests, talk or no talk, in shape or out of shape, B.J. Penn is in for a world of hurt come Dec. 8 in Seattle.
“He's got a lot of excuses that guy. He likes to start (expletive); he likes to get people excited. I don't really think about it too much. He asked me to do the VADA random testing and I accepted it,” said MacDonald.
“I'll prove to him that I'm a clean fighter. At the end of the day, he can say whatever he wants to say, get people excited, but I'm still going to beat his ass.”
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