There were so many possibilities for welterweight Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Moraga. An impressive win would have further advanced his standing in the title picture. A loss would have put him at the back of the line. Somehow, though, MacDonald found option C: win in unimpressive fashion and miss out on a title shot.

MacDonald seems to be the next logical title challenger in the rankings. Barring some sort of rematch between champion Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks later this year, MacDonald should be preparing to enter the cage for a five-round title fight in his next outing. The other top contender, Carlos Condit, has lost two in a row, and to Hendricks and St-Pierre, no less.

MacDonald is a little ahead of Demian Maia in the rankings, in my humble opinion. That could all change this fall when Maia faces Jake Shields in what could be the Brazilian submission specialist’s make-or-break fight in his new weight class. MacDonald and Maia are the two guys that are sitting at the front of the line and continue to win, and therefore they deserve that title shot. Maia’s grappling is world-class and he is possibly the best jiu-jitsu practitioner on the UFC’s roster. MacDonald, on the other hand, is the future of the UFC and is a well-rounded fighter that also happens to be St-Pierre’s teammate at Tristar.

All that aside, with MacDonald’s wins over Nate Diaz, B.J. Penn and Jake Ellenberger, it seems only right to give him the next shot. MacDonald’s five-fight winning streak gives him the edge as well.

MacDonald’s performance against Ellenberger lacked a lot and perhaps left a sour taste in some fans’ mouths considering the build-up the fight had gained. It was one of those fights that out-shined the main event in terms of the buildup to the event. Considering the implications and how timid Ellenberger seemed, MacDonald should have won more decisively and more impressively. Round after round, MacDonald utilized his distance to keep Ellenberger at bay. He never really tried to end the fight. It wasn’t a performance to write home about. In fact, that conservative performance could cost MacDonald a lot.

The rising contender has to sit back and wait to see what happens with Maia’s upcoming fight this fall. Luckily for MacDonald, Shields will most certainly give Maia a run for his money and an impressive win from Maia isn’t exactly written in stone.

MacDonald’s title shot was up in the air anyway with his ties to St-Pierre and whatnot, but still, his unimpressive performance left a lot to be desired. Given the way the fight unfolded and MacDonald being touted as the best up-and-coming fighter the UFC has to offer, The 24-year-old Canadian should have showcased more of his skill instead of trying to emulate a St-Pierre decision victory.

Maybe MacDonald has been around St-Pierre too much. Maybe he didn’t want to risk the possible title shot he felt was coming to him with a win. I don’t blame him for his style, especially in a sport where winning keeps the money flowing and losing could be the difference between paying the bills and missing rent. That aside, at his level in the division and with his hype, MacDonald needs to impress, not just win. If you’re going to fear Ellenberger’s power—especially on a night where Ellenberger admitted he wasn’t even close to his best—maybe the title fight isn’t for MacDonald.

Although MacDonald’s resume deems him worthy of a title shot, the Canadian doesn’t seem ready for it. Sure, he is the logical choice to face St-Pierre or Hendricks, depending on who comes out victorious in that upcoming bout, but he doesn’t seem ready to face either of those fighters at this point.

MacDonald’s timid and conservative style this past fight showed just how he would feel going against somebody he knows can finish him. His performance against Ellenberger is drastically different from the MacDonald we saw bludgeon Penn. MacDonald knew he could beat Penn and didn’t fear anything the former lightweight and welterweight champion could do. MacDonald had the confidence and the mental ability going into that fight. He seemed to lose those qualities against Ellenberger. He feared Ellenberger’s power and feared the wrestling Ellenberger was sure to employ if MacDonald got close enough.

MacDonald is highly talented, sure, but mentally he didn’t seem ready to face a top-five welterweight. Given MacDonald’s recent performance, facing somebody like St-Pierre could spell disaster for him. MacDonald has grown up and trained thinking so highly of St-Pierre. Now if he were to face him, what would be more likely? Would it be his confident self showing up or the same timid game-planner we saw face Ellenberger? Yeah, I’d bet on the latter too.

Photo: Rory MacDonald (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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.