Rory MacDonald is known almost as much for his stoic, monotone demeanor and manner of speaking as he is for his fighting skills but after dominating Tyron Woodley at UFC 174 in his home town of Vancouver, "Ares" was smiling and elated. "It's amazing," he told interviewer Joe Rogan after scores of 30-27, all-around, were announced in his favor.
The 24 year old contender had good reason to smile. Woodley was as feared as anyone in the division coming into the fight against MacDonald, having violently stopped his last two opponents inside the distance, but the young Canadian neutralized the St. Louis wrestler's game for three rounds straight.
Woodley came on strong early on with punches, knees and take down attempts but MacDonald managed to deftly defend just about everything thrown his way. After that, Woodley seemed to be out of ideas for most of the rest of the fight, allowing himself to be backed against the cage and simply react to MacDonald's offense.
For his part, the Georges St. Pierre protege mounted a tactical but aggressive attack, pumping a jab to the head and gut of Woodley and throwing effective multi-punch combos for two rounds. In the third, MacDonald scored his own take down and put a hurting on Woodley with strikes.
Woodley lasted until the final horn and fought hard the whole way, but it was clear at the end who deserves the next shot at the UFC's welterweight title, after the winner of Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown's bout next month.
"I think I'm ready," MacDonald said of a potential title bout.
"The belt will be mine."
Only time will tell if MacDonald will wait for a title shot from the sidelines or if he may fight once more before possibly getting a crack at the world title he covets.