The fight between Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8 has a lot of title implications. Thousands of dollars, a chance to be champion and, for MacDonald, facing his mentor and training partner, champion Georges St-Pierre.

“As far as I was told, this is going to be a No. 1 contender fight,” Ellenberger said back in May on Radio. “That’s what I was told. Obviously that’s not in writing, so you never know for sure, but really that’s the only thing I’m thinking of.”

While Ellenberger saying it doesn’t make it true, Ellenberger and MacDonald are two of the top welterweights in the UFC at this moment and could very likely be vying for the next shot after Johny Hendricks.

If Ellenberger wins, the decision to take the title shot is an easy one to make. Ellenberger doesn’t have a relationship built with current champion St-Pierre. MacDonald, on the other hand, does. MacDonald and St-Pierre are teammates and that poses a problem.

There’s no guarantee that St-Pierre will still be the champion when it’s MacDonald’s turn to challenge for the belt. St-Pierre faces Hendricks later this year, and the outcome of that fight could change the entire decision-making process for MacDonald. However, as of UFC on Fox 8, GSP is still the champion and MacDonald would have to work under the assumption that his mentor will still hold the belt after UFC 167 in November.

For those three months between UFC on Fox 8 and UFC 167, MacDonald would be left weighing the options: face a friend and become champion or sit around and be the No. 2 at welterweight and the gatekeeper for anybody who wants a shot at St-Pierre.

It would be stupid of MacDonald to pass on the opportunity for a title shot. The chance to achieve the goal of becoming champion doesn’t come often, and injuries or a stunning loss could send MacDonald tumbling out of the title picture, never to return. Plus, MacDonald also needs to consider the money there is to be made from a title fight, as well as the fame such a fight would bring him.

I wouldn’t mind fighting a friend, especially if you gave me a chance to be a UFC champion and paid me the amount of money that comes with a championship bout. That achievement and all that comes with it is something I wouldn’t want to lose out on. Why should MacDonald wait until St-Pierre retires and MacDonald is potentially past his prime to get the chance to fight for the belt? It doesn’t make sense to just pass that up. In fact, it is a disservice to MacDonald’s career.

At age 23, MacDonald is a young athlete. He’s not a young accountant or a young lawyer, but a young athlete. A typical nine-to-five career job can last a lifetime and the chance at a raise or a promotion could come along multiple times. In sports, the window is much smaller. Before you know it, you’ve lost a step, your response time is not where it needs to be and you just can’t keep up any longer. An athlete’s time in a sport is so short that they have to capitalize on every opportunity. They can’t just let something like this pass them by. A title fight with the great Georges St-Pierre is like Haley’s Comet; it will come once in a lifetime.

MacDonald has said he wouldn’t fight St-Pierre.

“We’re not fighting,” MacDonald said in May on The MMA Hour. “Me and Georges are friends, we’re training partners. We’ll have our own arrangements and figure it all out when the time comes. It’s not going to come to us fighting. Friends, teammates, you know? We’re here to help each other.”

However, MacDonald didn’t fully close the door on the idea either.

“We’ll just figure it out,” MacDonald said. “I’m not there yet. I’m more focused on Jake than anything, I’m taking it one step at a time. I’m sure at one point I’ll be champ in this division, that is my goal. I’m not just here to be No. 3 guy or No. 4 or whatever I’m ranked. Eventually I’ll get there.”

That’s right, he isn’t there to be the No. 3 or No. 4 guy. He’s not. He’s a fighter and he’s there to be the best in his division, period. His friendship with St-Pierre is great, but he’s got a shot here with a win and he should take it.

When push comes to shove, the two will fight. Whether they say it now or not, they will. Both guys want to face the best and both want to be champion. That alone will push each guy to put everything aside and go toe-to-toe in the Octagon.

It’ll come time to make the fight and UFC President Dana White will pull the two together. MacDonald and St-Pierre will insist they won’t fight each other and blah, blah, blah. Then the two will think about it and realize that they are legitimately the best in their division and that the fight is inevitable. Plus, I’m sure the money offered to them for the fight will help in the decision-making process.

When it comes down to it, MacDonald will realize the stakes here is too great. He’ll know what he has to do. When that realization comes, we’ll be looking at a fight between GSP and GSP 2.0.

Photo: Rory MacDonald (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.