Even though his UFC on Fox 8 opponent, Jake Ellenberger, has been taking verbal jabs at him at every turn, MacDonald isn’t rattled. Thus far, he’s kept his cool attitude intact and intends to keep it all the way to the Octagon on Saturday night in Seattle.
“My message to Rory is pretty clear: for him to start tasting some flavors of baby food and find which ones you like and stock up, because this isn’t the Tears for Fears look alike contest. All I said to him was prepare for some horizontal television time, and I meant it,” Ellenberger crowed during a recent media call.
“I am an evidence-based abuser,” he continued. “I didn’t make him make the stupid decision to fight me, and I’m just going to make him look stupid when I destroy him.”
For many fighters, such boisterous claims would come off as overcompensation for fears that he didn’t match up, but for Ellenberger, that’s not the case. It’s his own brand of confidence and an attempt bounce around in MacDonald’s head.
Ellenberger (29-6) is 8-2 during his UFC tenure, knocking out five of his eight victims. That’s no small feat considering he’s faced the likes of Carlos Condit, Mike Pyle, Jake Shields, Diego Sanchez, Martin Kampmann, and Nate Marquardt.
But none of that shakes MacDonald’s quiet confidence.
He didn’t get this far by doubting himself. And once he put his emotions in check, MacDonald’s course has been true.
A teammate of longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, MacDonald (14-1) has forged tremendous successes of his own in the Octagon.
A fired up crowd got into his head in his loss to Carlos Condit at UFC 115, but knowing what went wrong, MacDonald hasn’t let it happen again.
He has since reeled off four consecutive victories, blasting through Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, Che Mills, and two-division champion B.J. Penn. With such a resume, it’s easy to see why MacDonald isn’t intimidated by Ellenberger’s antics or his list of accolades.
“I don’t really care. It doesn’t really bother me either way,” said MacDonald. “I don’t care about the disrespecting or whatever. I just get in there and fight my fight, and yes, if they suffer, they suffer. I don’t really care if they’re nice or they’re an (expletive).”
MacDonald and Ellenberger are both on a trajectory that aligns with St-Pierre’s title. But should he win, even talk about whether or not he would fight his friend or jump ship and move up to middleweight doesn’t shake the Canadian.
“Both guys are explosive, dynamic finishers, and two of the top guys in that division,” UFC president Dana White commented. “Obviously, the guy who wins this fight is right up there and close to a title shot.”
MacDonald doesn't want to talk about the what ifs at this stage of the game, however, he is focused on the task at hand and continuing to do what has got him to this point in his young career.
“I’m just going to focus on this fight for now,” said the 24-year-old. “My whole career has just kind of been going with the flow. Everything changes after each fight, so I’ll see where I am after this fight, and it’s just the options from there. Nothing’s out of the question.”
“Nothing’s out of the question” certainly leaves the question wide open for others to consider should MacDonald dispatch Ellenberger on Saturday night. But whether he’s eventually confronted with fighting his teammate or moving on, MacDonald keeps his workmanlike demeanor through it all.
“Winning a UFC fight, it’s like nothing else,” he said in a recent interview.
“It is just a business and it’s not personal. There are some guys that can’t separate that.”