There’s no questioning that Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger are two of the top welterweight fighters in the world. They’re also the top two UFC 170-pounders that haven’t fought or aren’t scheduled to fight for the championship belt currently wrapped around the waist of Georges St-Pierre.
That could change following their fight at UFC on Fox 8 on Saturday night.
Nearly everyone is pointing to the fight as a de facto No. 1 contender elimination bout, including UFC president Dana White.
“I would have to say that the guy who wins this fight is definitely in line for the next shot,” White told Inside MMA’s Ron Kruck on Friday.
He fell short of guaranteeing a title shot to the winner, but certainly would consider the winner as one of the top options when it comes to fighter “in the mix.”
MacDonald, however, is a training partner of St-Pierre’s and has often said that he doesn’t want to fight his friend and mentor, and would even consider moving to another weight class if it came down to it.
White isn’t sold that MacDonald and St-Pierre wouldn’t fight each other if it were for all the marbles.
“(MacDonald) basically lives in Georges St-Pierre's house, meaning he trains there in his training facility. He lives in Montreal, Canada. Georges St-Pierre says nothing but good things about this guy. What's he going to do? Is he going to run out in front of the whole world and beat his chest and say, ‘I want Georges St-Pierre's title, and I'm going to take it from him' and all this stuff? No, he's not,” White explained.
“But if you don't think that he wants to fight Georges St-Pierre, if you don't think he wants a shot at that 170-pound title, and if you don't think he wants to be the world champion and make the kind of money that Georges St-Pierre makes, you're crazy, my friend.”
St-Pierre has been one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. Along with that come huge paydays, major mainstream endorsement deals, movie roles, and many other opportunities not usually afforded a similarly skilled fighter that has yet to wear the gold around his waist.
No fighter, as a top contender, can attain that level of success. You have to become a champion and stake your claim as the best among the best.
Rory MacDonald is the type of fighter that wants and expects to do nothing less than reach such a lofty perch.
At the end of the day, that, says White, is what will make the difference when it comes time for MacDonald and St-Pierre to talk in realistic terms – not what-if terms – about stepping in the Octagon opposite each other.
“When you get there, I guarantee you it will be a different conversation,” White said. “And I also guarantee you that in no way, shape or form does Georges St-Pierre think that Rory MacDonald does not want to fight him.”