Tag Archive for MacDonald

UFC Fight Night 54: MacDonald Vs. Saffiedine Weigh-Ins Are Complete

The live fighter weigh-ins for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 54: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine event are now finished and official, and all fighters made weight. Rory MacDonald meets Tarec Saffiedine in a welterweight main event, while Raphael Assuncao battles Bryan Caraway in another main card bouts. Complete weigh-in results, along with a video replay of the […]

The post UFC Fight Night 54: MacDonald Vs. Saffiedine Weigh-Ins Are Complete appeared first on Caged Insider.

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Rory MacDonald vs. Tarec Saffiedine free fight videos preview UFC Fight Night 54 contender’s bout

One of these two men will be fighting for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title in 2015 with a win in the UFC Fight Night 54 main event, which takes place this Saturday night (Oct. 4, 2014) inside Halifax Metro Center in Nova Scotia, Canada.

But will it be Rory MacDonald … or Tarec Saffiedine?

It’s pretty much a given that “Ares” will move on to face the winner of Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler, who collide for “Bigg Rigg’s” belt at UFC 181 on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada (more on that fight here). The same can’t be said for “Sponge,” though you can bet a win over MacDonald probably puts him just one fight away.

Simply put, there is a lot on the line this weekend in Halifax.

To help get mixed martial arts (MMA) fans pumped for this weekend’s big bonanza, the promotion has wheeled out a pair of free fight videos, featuring both UFC Fight Night 54 headliners in action. First up is the interloper, who rocked-and-socked his way to a five-round decision victory over Hyun Gyu Lim way back in January.

Have a look:

Impressive.

Also doing work against a crafty international veteran was MacDonald, the hometown hero in this weekend’s affair, who handily disposed of former middleweight No. 1 contender Demian Maia when they went to war earlier this year in “Sin City.”

See for yourself.

Who gets it done on FOX Sports 1?

See who else is fighting at UFC Fight Night 54 right here. For “MacDonald vs. Saffiedine” results and live play-by-play click here.

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UFC Fight Night 54 fight card: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine

MMA Fighting has the UFC Fight Night 54 fight card for the MacDonald vs. Saffiedine event Oct. 5 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

In the main event, Rory MacDonald will square off against Tarec Saffiedine in a welterweight contest. Raphael Assuncao faces Bryan Caraway in a key bantamweight contest in the co-main event.

Check out the UFC Fight Night 54 fight card below.

Main card (FOX Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET)
Rory MacDonald vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Raphael Assuncao vs. Bryan Caraway
Chad Laprise vs. Yosdenis Cedeno
Elias Theodorou vs. Bruno Santos
Nordine Taleb vs. Li Jingliang
Mitch Gagnon vs. Roman Salazar

Undercard (FOX Sports 2 at 8 p.m. ET)
Daron Cruickshank vs. Anthony Njokuani
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Jake Lindsey
Jason Saggo vs. Paul Felder
Patrick Holohan vs. Chris Kelades

Undercard (UFC Fight Pass at 7 p.m. ET)
Albert Tumenov vs. Matt Dwyer
Pedro Munhoz vs. Jerrod Sanders

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UFC Fight Night 54 ‘Prelims’ preview, predictions for ‘MacDonald vs Saffiedine’ in Halifax

More fights are coming to Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Oct. 4, 2014) when UFC Fight Night 54: “MacDonald vs. Saffiedine” kicks off from Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Canada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off UFC Fight Night 54 “Prelims” party with a full under card preview.

Can “Sponge” soak up “Waterboy?”

After dispatching Tyron Woodley in June, Canada’s Rory MacDonald has a second Strikeforce standout in his sights, the now-defunct promotion’s final Welterweight champion, Tarec Saffiedine, who will take on MacDonald in the main event of UFC Fight Night 54 this Saturday (Oct. 4, 2014) from Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Canada.

UFC Fight Night 54 will also play host to a pivotal Bantamweight clash as Raphael Assuncao puts his six-fight win streak on the line against submission machine Bryan Caraway. Plus, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Nations” winner, Chad Laprise, will face Cuban prospect Yosdenis Cedeno in his second Octagon appearance.

The main card and the latter four “Prelims” under card bouts will take place on FOX Sports 1; however, two more “Prelims” setting the stage on Fight Pass.

Let’s see what we’ve got:

155 lbs.: Daron Cruickshank vs. Anthony Njokuani

After a 1-2 stretch that saw clear losses to John Makdessi and Adriano Martins, Daron Cruickshank (15-5) worked his way into the Lightweight picture with impressive knockouts of Mike Rio and Erik Koch. Despite scoring an early knockdown, Cruickshank’s run came to an end at the hands of Jorge Masvidal, who grappled his way to a decision win.

“The Detroit Superstar” will give up four inches of height to Anthony Njokuani (16-8).

Following a tough loss to Rafael dos Anjos in 2012, Njokuani finally earned his first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) knockout a year later, flattening Roger Bowling with a gorgeous left hook. He had less success against TUF 15 vet Vinc Pichel, who capitalized on the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran’s grappling troubles to take a unanimous decision.

Njokuani has now alternated wins and losses since a 2010 knockout of Edward Faaloloto in WEC.

Njokuani looked atrocious against Pichel, but it’s worth remembering that he was coming off a year-long layoff and had won beforehand, meaning he was required to lose to maintain his win/loss pattern. Unfortunately for Cruickshank, that means he’s due for a win.

As flashy as Cruickshank is, he’s had trouble against technical strikers, and Njokuani has some exceptional Muay Thai when someone obliges him in the stand up. Compounded with Njokuani’s length advantage, I expect him to outstrike Cruickshank at range and get back in the win column.

Prediction: Njokuani via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Nordine Taleb vs. Li Jingliang

Despite unsuccessful runs on TUF: “Nations” and TUF 19, Nordine Taleb (9-2) earned a crack in UFC proper, debuting on the former’s Finale. There, Taleb successfully defeated “Nations” castmate Vik Grujic, picking up his first win after 1.5 years out of the professional cage.

The three-time Bellator veteran owns five knockout wins in his professional career.

Li Jingliang (9-2) joined UFC after a seven-fight run in China’s Legend FC promotion, going 5-2 and earning its Welterweight title. He debuted in UFC in May, using superior grappling to defeat David Michaud via split decision.

“The Leech” has finished six opponents overall, including four via guillotine.

One of Taleb’s major assets is his size; he is absolutely massive at 170. Now that he’s back at welterweight, I expect him to use that size to good effect against Jingliang. His takedown defense should stand up to “The Leech’s” grappling attempts and he figures to be a step above in the striking, packing some big power in his punches.

Taleb’s superior strength of schedule and stand up advantage should carry him to a stoppage victory. If Jiangling can’t get him to the ground quickly, and I don’t expect he can, Taleb should beat him down early.

Prediction: Taleb via first-round technical knockout

155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Jake Lindsey

Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier (4-1) made short work of his foes on TUF: “Nations,” defeating Aussies Jake Matthews and Richard Walsh in the first two bouts. He did not manage to enjoy the same success on the Finale, losing a split decision to heavy-handed teammate Chad Laprise.

All four of Aubin-Mercier’s professional victories have come by rear-naked choke inside of two minutes.

Jake Lindsey (9-1) entered the world’s largest fight promotion having finished four straight opponents via punches, including three in the first round. In June, Guam’s Jon Tuck managed to halt “The Librarian’s” momentum by forcing him to submit to heel strikes from back mount.

Lindsey is two inches taller than Aubin-Mercier and has scored seven finishes.

Considering Aubin-Mercier’s success on the show at 170 pounds, it will be interesting to see how far he can go back at his normal weight. After seeing Lindsey’s struggles with Tuck, I’m pretty sure the answer is “way past Lindsey.”

Aubin-Mercier has shown an excellent ability to take the back and finish with the choke in short order. Considering Lindsey’s last fight, I think this one is pretty cut-and-dry.

Olivier chokes him out in the first.

Prediction: Aubin-Mercier via first-round submission

155 lbs.: Jason Saggo vs. Paul Felder

Jason Saggo (10-1) faced a stiff test in his first Octagon appearance, taking on Bellator veteran Josh Shockley in the opening bout of UFC 174. The Ontario native nonetheless managed to overpower Shockley, pounding him out from back mount in the waning seconds of the first round.

He has never gone the distance in victory, earning eight submission wins among those finishes..

CFFC champion Paul Felder (8-0) took out two TUF veterans in his last three fights, defeating TUF 16’s Julian Lane and TUF 11’s Marc Stevens. His most impressive win was his most recent, however, as he felled Craig Johnson by wheel kick in August.

He has knocked out six of his eight professional opponents.

Aside from a couple highlights and his third professional fight, pickings are slim as regards footage of Felder. What I have seen and read suggests that he’s a skilled striker, which is backed up by that 75 percent knockout rate. His grappling, however, seems to be a bit of a weakness.

Against someone with both quality takedowns and submission skills, that’s not the best skill set.

Felder’s proclivity for kicks may wind up being his undoing, giving Saggo the opportunity he needs to sling him to the ground. Once there, it shouldn’t be long before the Canadian moves to the back and locks up his fourth rear-naked choke in his last five fights.

Prediction: Saggo via first-round submission

170 lbs.: Albert Tumenov vs. Matt Dwyer

One of the most highly-touted Russian prospects in the sport, Albert Tumenov (13-2) came up short in his UFC debut, fading after dishing out a nasty first-round beating against Ildemar Alcantara and losing a split decision. In his second Octagon appearance, he showcased the power that earned him six straight knockouts before his debut, pasting Anthony Lapsley in the first round.

He has scored nine knockouts overall, including eight in his last nine wins.

Matt Dwyer (7-1) earned the highest-profile victory of his career in May, knocking out UFC vet DaMarques Johnson after two brutal rounds. The victory marked his seventh by knockout and just his second time past the first round.

He is five inches taller than Tumenov, standing an impressive 6’4.”

Dwyer can certainly crack and is very long for 170 pounds. The issue is that he is a technically-poor brawler who is very easy to hit; Johnson, who is by no means a quality striker, dropped him twice, repeatedly landing his left hook with impunity.

And there aren’t many welterweights with better left hooks than Tumenov.

The Russian has crushing power, good speed and excellent timing with his counters. I will be very surprised if he doesn’t blow Dwyer out of the water fairly early in this fight.

Prediction: Tumenov via first-round knockout

135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Jarrod Sanders

Pedro Munhoz (11-1) drew a tough assignment in his February debut, taking on top contender Raphael Assuncao on short notice. Though he lost a decision to Assuncao, Munhoz showed how he became RFA champion in his sophomore appearance, knocking out Matt Hobar in the first round.

“Young Punisher” has finished eight opponents overall, six by submission.

Sanders likewise got no matchmaking favors when he joined UFC, moving up in weight to face powerful Cuban Yosdenis Cedeno as a late replacement. Sanders bowed out after a brutal first round in which he suffered a leg injury, resulting in his first loss since his third pro fight.

This will be his Bantamweight debut.

Jarrod Sanders (14-2) deserves some slack for the rough time he had in his debut. Unfortunately for him, Munhoz isn’t going to give it to him — Munhoz is a ferocious finisher, packing both a great grappling game and the wrestling to implement it.

Sanders’ only real shot at victory, in my opinion, is trying to grind Munhoz down, but I don’t believe he’s got the Brazilian jiu-jitsu to survive that tactic.

Whether he matches the wrestler’s takedown prowess or capitalizes on Sanders’ own shots, I fully expect Munhoz to finish this on the mat. “The Young Punisher” snatches a guillotine late in the first round.

Prediction: Munhoz via first-round submission

Two cards and plenty of intriguing fights. Not a bad way to kick off October.

See you there, Maniacs.

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 54 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at  7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports “Prelims” at 8 p.m. ET and then the FOX Sports 1 main card at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record 2014: 144-62 (1 NC)

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UFC Fight Night 54 ‘Prelims’ preview, predictions for ‘MacDonald vs Saffiedine’ in Halifax

More fights are coming to Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Oct. 4, 2014) when UFC Fight Night 54: “MacDonald vs. Saffiedine” kicks off from Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Canada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off UFC Fight Night 54 “Prelims” party with a full under card preview.

Can “Sponge” soak up “Waterboy?”

After dispatching Tyron Woodley in June, Canada’s Rory MacDonald has a second Strikeforce standout in his sights, the now-defunct promotion’s final Welterweight champion, Tarec Saffiedine, who will take on MacDonald in the main event of UFC Fight Night 54 this Saturday (Oct. 4, 2014) from Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Canada.

UFC Fight Night 54 will also play host to a pivotal Bantamweight clash as Raphael Assuncao puts his six-fight win streak on the line against submission machine Bryan Caraway. Plus, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Nations” winner, Chad Laprise, will face Cuban prospect Yosdenis Cedeno in his second Octagon appearance.

The main card and the latter four “Prelims” under card bouts will take place on FOX Sports 1; however, two more “Prelims” setting the stage on Fight Pass.

Let’s see what we’ve got:

155 lbs.: Daron Cruickshank vs. Anthony Njokuani

After a 1-2 stretch that saw clear losses to John Makdessi and Adriano Martins, Daron Cruickshank (15-5) worked his way into the Lightweight picture with impressive knockouts of Mike Rio and Erik Koch. Despite scoring an early knockdown, Cruickshank’s run came to an end at the hands of Jorge Masvidal, who grappled his way to a decision win.

“The Detroit Superstar” will give up four inches of height to Anthony Njokuani (16-8).

Following a tough loss to Rafael dos Anjos in 2012, Njokuani finally earned his first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) knockout a year later, flattening Roger Bowling with a gorgeous left hook. He had less success against TUF 15 vet Vinc Pichel, who capitalized on the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran’s grappling troubles to take a unanimous decision.

Njokuani has now alternated wins and losses since a 2010 knockout of Edward Faaloloto in WEC.

Njokuani looked atrocious against Pichel, but it’s worth remembering that he was coming off a year-long layoff and had won beforehand, meaning he was required to lose to maintain his win/loss pattern. Unfortunately for Cruickshank, that means he’s due for a win.

As flashy as Cruickshank is, he’s had trouble against technical strikers, and Njokuani has some exceptional Muay Thai when someone obliges him in the stand up. Compounded with Njokuani’s length advantage, I expect him to outstrike Cruickshank at range and get back in the win column.

Prediction: Njokuani via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Nordine Taleb vs. Li Jingliang

Despite unsuccessful runs on TUF: “Nations” and TUF 19, Nordine Taleb (9-2) earned a crack in UFC proper, debuting on the former’s Finale. There, Taleb successfully defeated “Nations” castmate Vik Grujic, picking up his first win after 1.5 years out of the professional cage.

The three-time Bellator veteran owns five knockout wins in his professional career.

Li Jingliang (9-2) joined UFC after a seven-fight run in China’s Legend FC promotion, going 5-2 and earning its Welterweight title. He debuted in UFC in May, using superior grappling to defeat David Michaud via split decision.

“The Leech” has finished six opponents overall, including four via guillotine.

One of Taleb’s major assets is his size; he is absolutely massive at 170. Now that he’s back at welterweight, I expect him to use that size to good effect against Jingliang. His takedown defense should stand up to “The Leech’s” grappling attempts and he figures to be a step above in the striking, packing some big power in his punches.

Taleb’s superior strength of schedule and stand up advantage should carry him to a stoppage victory. If Jiangling can’t get him to the ground quickly, and I don’t expect he can, Taleb should beat him down early.

Prediction: Taleb via first-round technical knockout

155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Jake Lindsey

Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier (4-1) made short work of his foes on TUF: “Nations,” defeating Aussies Jake Matthews and Richard Walsh in the first two bouts. He did not manage to enjoy the same success on the Finale, losing a split decision to heavy-handed teammate Chad Laprise.

All four of Aubin-Mercier’s professional victories have come by rear-naked choke inside of two minutes.

Jake Lindsey (9-1) entered the world’s largest fight promotion having finished four straight opponents via punches, including three in the first round. In June, Guam’s Jon Tuck managed to halt “The Librarian’s” momentum by forcing him to submit to heel strikes from back mount.

Lindsey is two inches taller than Aubin-Mercier and has scored seven finishes.

Considering Aubin-Mercier’s success on the show at 170 pounds, it will be interesting to see how far he can go back at his normal weight. After seeing Lindsey’s struggles with Tuck, I’m pretty sure the answer is “way past Lindsey.”

Aubin-Mercier has shown an excellent ability to take the back and finish with the choke in short order. Considering Lindsey’s last fight, I think this one is pretty cut-and-dry.

Olivier chokes him out in the first.

Prediction: Aubin-Mercier via first-round submission

155 lbs.: Jason Saggo vs. Paul Felder

Jason Saggo (10-1) faced a stiff test in his first Octagon appearance, taking on Bellator veteran Josh Shockley in the opening bout of UFC 174. The Ontario native nonetheless managed to overpower Shockley, pounding him out from back mount in the waning seconds of the first round.

He has never gone the distance in victory, earning eight submission wins among those finishes..

CFFC champion Paul Felder (8-0) took out two TUF veterans in his last three fights, defeating TUF 16’s Julian Lane and TUF 11’s Marc Stevens. His most impressive win was his most recent, however, as he felled Craig Johnson by wheel kick in August.

He has knocked out six of his eight professional opponents.

Aside from a couple highlights and his third professional fight, pickings are slim as regards footage of Felder. What I have seen and read suggests that he’s a skilled striker, which is backed up by that 75 percent knockout rate. His grappling, however, seems to be a bit of a weakness.

Against someone with both quality takedowns and submission skills, that’s not the best skill set.

Felder’s proclivity for kicks may wind up being his undoing, giving Saggo the opportunity he needs to sling him to the ground. Once there, it shouldn’t be long before the Canadian moves to the back and locks up his fourth rear-naked choke in his last five fights.

Prediction: Saggo via first-round submission

170 lbs.: Albert Tumenov vs. Matt Dwyer

One of the most highly-touted Russian prospects in the sport, Albert Tumenov (13-2) came up short in his UFC debut, fading after dishing out a nasty first-round beating against Ildemar Alcantara and losing a split decision. In his second Octagon appearance, he showcased the power that earned him six straight knockouts before his debut, pasting Anthony Lapsley in the first round.

He has scored nine knockouts overall, including eight in his last nine wins.

Matt Dwyer (7-1) earned the highest-profile victory of his career in May, knocking out UFC vet DaMarques Johnson after two brutal rounds. The victory marked his seventh by knockout and just his second time past the first round.

He is five inches taller than Tumenov, standing an impressive 6’4.”

Dwyer can certainly crack and is very long for 170 pounds. The issue is that he is a technically-poor brawler who is very easy to hit; Johnson, who is by no means a quality striker, dropped him twice, repeatedly landing his left hook with impunity.

And there aren’t many welterweights with better left hooks than Tumenov.

The Russian has crushing power, good speed and excellent timing with his counters. I will be very surprised if he doesn’t blow Dwyer out of the water fairly early in this fight.

Prediction: Tumenov via first-round knockout

135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Jarrod Sanders

Pedro Munhoz (11-1) drew a tough assignment in his February debut, taking on top contender Raphael Assuncao on short notice. Though he lost a decision to Assuncao, Munhoz showed how he became RFA champion in his sophomore appearance, knocking out Matt Hobar in the first round.

“Young Punisher” has finished eight opponents overall, six by submission.

Sanders likewise got no matchmaking favors when he joined UFC, moving up in weight to face powerful Cuban Yosdenis Cedeno as a late replacement. Sanders bowed out after a brutal first round in which he suffered a leg injury, resulting in his first loss since his third pro fight.

This will be his Bantamweight debut.

Jarrod Sanders (14-2) deserves some slack for the rough time he had in his debut. Unfortunately for him, Munhoz isn’t going to give it to him — Munhoz is a ferocious finisher, packing both a great grappling game and the wrestling to implement it.

Sanders’ only real shot at victory, in my opinion, is trying to grind Munhoz down, but I don’t believe he’s got the Brazilian jiu-jitsu to survive that tactic.

Whether he matches the wrestler’s takedown prowess or capitalizes on Sanders’ own shots, I fully expect Munhoz to finish this on the mat. “The Young Punisher” snatches a guillotine late in the first round.

Prediction: Munhoz via first-round submission

Two cards and plenty of intriguing fights. Not a bad way to kick off October.

See you there, Maniacs.

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 54 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at  7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports “Prelims” at 8 p.m. ET and then the FOX Sports 1 main card at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record 2014: 144-62 (1 NC)

MMAmania.com – All Posts

UFC Fight Night 54 preview: Rory MacDonald likely earns welterweight title shot by squeezing ‘Sponge’ in Nova Scotia

“I’m in the ‘hunt’ mode. I feel like right now in my last couple of fights, I’m really hungry. I’m really focused. I’m here for the kill. I’m coming for the belt and I’m going to demolish everyone I have to, to get to that point.” — Rory MacDonald

Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight contender Rory MacDonald is just five days away from his UFC Fight Night 54 showdown against longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Tarec Saffiedine, a five-round headliner that is scheduled for Sat., Oct. 4, 2014 on FOX Sports 1 from inside Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

A clear-cut win will undoubtedly earn “Ares” a crack at the crown, soon to be contested between reigning division champion Johny Hendricks and stubborn No. 1 contender Robbie Lawler on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada (more on that fight here).

As for Saffiedine?

Probably not. While it may not seem fair on paper — considering Saffiedine has won five in a row compared to just two straight for MacDonald — the promotion has been able to build a considerable amount of hype for the Canadian, while the oft-injured “Sponge” is just one fight into his Octagon career.

And I doubt ZUFFA intends to fill a stadium in Brussels.

What’s great about elevating MacDonald to No. 1 contender with a win this weekend, is that he already has a pair of built-in storylines for a 2015 title fight, regardless of who prevails at UFC 181. Should Hendricks retain his 170-pound strap, then he gets to exact revenge on Team TriStar, home of Georges St. Pierre, for what he believes was a screwjob at UFC 167.

But if Robbie Lawler finishes what he started at UFC 171?

Then “Ruthless” will get the opportunity to defeat MacDonald for a second time, after claiming a split-decision victory over “Ares” — also at UFC 167 — back in November 2013. Hopefully, the UFC 181 headliners can fight to a decisive finish and escape relatively unharmed.

Because the show must go on.

Elevating MacDonald has as much to do with the current welterweight rankings as it does with merit. You would be hard pressed to find another 170-pound contender (see the full list here) who could make an argument for a title shot. The one man who is still in the conversation, Hector Lombard, can’t seem to find anyone to take to the big dance.

That’s what happens when you’re built like Victor von Gerdenheim and hit like a cement truck.

But in order to remove any and all doubt that MacDonald is the uncrowned king of the welterweights, he needs to watch what Dominick Cruz did at UFC 178 (video) and follow suit. It’s becoming harder to get away with a nickname like “Ares” (God of War) when five straight fights have gone to the scorecards.

That’s neither godly, nor warlike.

The good news is, a win is a win, and without a strong candidate to take his place (AWOL French Canadians notwithstanding), this is MacDonald’s opportunity to lose. Whether he can seize the moment — or just seizes up — remains to be seen, but don’t expect “Sponge” to just roll over and play dead.

For the full UFC Fight Night 54 fight card and line up click here.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

UFC Fight Night 54 preview: Rory MacDonald likely earns welterweight title shot by squeezing ‘Sponge’ in Nova Scotia

“I’m in the ‘hunt’ mode. I feel like right now in my last couple of fights, I’m really hungry. I’m really focused. I’m here for the kill. I’m coming for the belt and I’m going to demolish everyone I have to, to get to that point.” — Rory MacDonald

Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight contender Rory MacDonald is just five days away from his UFC Fight Night 54 showdown against longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Tarec Saffiedine, a five-round headliner that is scheduled for Sat., Oct. 4, 2014 on FOX Sports 1 from inside Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

A clear-cut win will undoubtedly earn “Ares” a crack at the crown, soon to be contested between reigning division champion Johny Hendricks and stubborn No. 1 contender Robbie Lawler on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada (more on that fight here).

As for Saffiedine?

Probably not. While it may not seem fair on paper — considering Saffiedine has won five in a row compared to just two straight for MacDonald — the promotion has been able to build a considerable amount of hype for the Canadian, while the oft-injured “Sponge” is just one fight into his Octagon career.

And I doubt ZUFFA intends to fill a stadium in Brussels.

What’s great about elevating MacDonald to No. 1 contender with a win this weekend, is that he already has a pair of built-in storylines for a 2015 title fight, regardless of who prevails at UFC 181. Should Hendricks retain his 170-pound strap, then he gets to exact revenge on Team TriStar, home of Georges St. Pierre, for what he believes was a screwjob at UFC 167.

But if Robbie Lawler finishes what he started at UFC 171?

Then “Ruthless” will get the opportunity to defeat MacDonald for a second time, after claiming a split-decision victory over “Ares” — also at UFC 167 — back in November 2013. Hopefully, the UFC 181 headliners can fight to a decisive finish and escape relatively unharmed.

Because the show must go on.

Elevating MacDonald has as much to do with the current welterweight rankings as it does with merit. You would be hard pressed to find another 170-pound contender (see the full list here) who could make an argument for a title shot. The one man who is still in the conversation, Hector Lombard, can’t seem to find anyone to take to the big dance.

That’s what happens when you’re built like Victor von Gerdenheim and hit like a cement truck.

But in order to remove any and all doubt that MacDonald is the uncrowned king of the welterweights, he needs to watch what Dominick Cruz did at UFC 178 (video) and follow suit. It’s becoming harder to get away with a nickname like “Ares” (God of War) when five straight fights have gone to the scorecards.

That’s neither godly, nor warlike.

The good news is, a win is a win, and without a strong candidate to take his place (AWOL French Canadians notwithstanding), this is MacDonald’s opportunity to lose. Whether he can seize the moment — or just seizes up — remains to be seen, but don’t expect “Sponge” to just roll over and play dead.

For the full UFC Fight Night 54 fight card and line up click here.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Who picked Rory MacDonald’s walkout music? For a time, not Rory MacDonald

Walkout music comes before the fighter. You often hear it before you see then either on the broadcast or in person at a live event. It sets the tone, sometimes sends a message and, on rare occasions, define who a fighter is in ways nothing else can (e.g. B.J. Penn).

Of course, that all presumes the fighter is the one picking their entrance music. In the case of UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald, that hasn’t been his experience, at least not until relatively recently.

The story is a bit strange and, as MacDonald explains, entirely true.

“I moved from Pomona to Montreal and I changed my phone number. The person who got my old number – the person who was dealing with the walkout music, his name is Jason,” MacDonald explained, “he doesn’t just do walkout music, but he was the one contacting me. He didn’t get my new number.

“He had my old one and he texted, ‘Hey Rory, what’s your next entrance music?’ This guy apparently pretended to be me because he knew who I was and he was picking my entrance music. I was like, ‘Every time I come out to fight, I’m like why the hell is this playing? I didn’t pick this.’ It was so weird.”

MacDonald claims it didn’t bother him to the point where it affected his performance, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled with how some of the music choices were received by others.

“Not that I really cared. It’s not the biggest deal for me. It’s just music, you know. Whatever. I was kind of frustrated. It was weird. Joe Rogan was making fun of me for my music. I’m like, ‘Aw man, this sucks a little bit.’”

Eventually, as MacDonald explains, the jig was up. An impromptu chat with ‘Jason’ the producer lead the two to figure out there was a third party there directing things in their own amusing way.

“And then one day – I can’t remember what the fight was – but Jason comes up to me and he’s like, ‘Oh man, sorry we can’t play such-and-such song.’ He named the song and I was like, ‘What are you talking about, man?’ I think it was a Nickelback song. He’s like, ‘You said you wanted this song when I texted you.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I never said that.’

“He’s like, ‘I’ll show you.’ He showed me and I said, ‘Dude, that’s my old number. Who are you talking to?’ So he calls the guy and is like, ‘Dude, this is not Rory MacDonald. You’re faking.’ He’s like,’ Oh yeah, I’m just a fan. I was just pretending.’”

MacDonald said this happened for a few years, although he notes it was he who picked choices ranging from Metallica to Rihanna. He also notes he didn’t get to pick his own music until UFC 145 when he faced Che Mills. “I like plenty of different music,” he claimed.

MacDonald is the first to reiterate, for him, walkout music isn’t the be-all, end-all. It’s good to have, but he acknowledged what happened to him was funny. Still, he’s happy to have control over his choices now.

“It’s not really the biggest thing on my mind that week, so I don’t even think about it. It just kind of happens. Someone asks me what song I want, I say it. That’s the kind of the end of the thought of it. I don’t know, it’s a funny thing that happened. It’s nice to actually be able to choose my music now.

“It’s just music, man,” he said. “It’s whatever.”

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Rory MacDonald: At welterweight, ‘I’m going to be holding that belt for a long time’

When you’re intently focused or on a mission or devoted to a cause, you simply don’t have time for many distractions. That’s the position UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald, 25, finds himself in today. After rebounding against Tyron Woodley at UFC 174 with a sensational unanimous decision victory, MacDonald tangles with former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine in October at the UFC’s first show in Halifax, Canada.

In fact, part of the reason the two are matched-up is because Saffiedine was so publicly vocal about his desire to face MacDonald. That’s all good and well to MacDonald, but ultimately immaterial. The only thing he cares about is the welterweight title belt. Whatever obstacles are in front of him to get there, well, it’s all part of one process.

“I don’t really think about it, to be completely honest,” MacDonald said of Saffiedine’s desire to face him on Monday’s The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “My hope is just to be fighting for the championship. I don’t really care about people who are ranked below me or whatever. I just want the belt. If other people are calling me out, that’s OK. That’s on them.”

Besides, there’s not much anyone can say or do to bring MacDonald down from the heights he’s recently climbed. After a loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167, the Canadian has shot back with not one, but two victories where he’s not only looked impressive, but talented in all phases of the game.

The second of those victories, which came against Woodley in June, put him in an interesting position. The winner of Lawler vs. Matt Brown was publicly promised a title shot against champion Johny Hendricks, but there was hope a win against an opponent as credible as Woodley could force the UFC to reconsider. While MacDonald looked sensational, it wasn’t enough to change the minds of UFC brass.

“I didn’t really put too much hope into it,” MacDonald said of getting a title shot with a win over Woodley. “I was just kind of going with the flow. I have to do what I have to do when I fight. That’s all within my hands. That’s what’s in my control. I try to put on the best performance as I can and try to get to that spot. I think I’m inching my way closer. I’m right there. I’ll fight whoever I have to fight to prove that I’m the best.”

To stay on his toes and keep up with the division, MacDonald says he watched Lawler vs. Brown. And why not? A win over Saffiedine is anything but a guarantee, but in MacDonald’s win, he and Lawler have unfinished business. If the two continue to win, they’ll also be on a collision course.

“It was a good fight and he just beat [Jake] Ellenberger pretty badly. He’s been impressive,” MacDonald said of Lawler. “I’m not going to take anything away from him. He’s a great fighter. Hopefully I’ll get another fight against him in the future, too.

“I’m not going to argue the UFC’s decision on who they want fighting next for the belt, but I really believe that I am the best. When I got that shot, I’m going to make a statement. I’m going to be holding that belt for a long time.”

The loss to Lawler was only the second of MacDonald’s career, the first being a stoppage defeat at the hands of Carlos Condit at UFC 115 in June of 2010. MacDonald doesn’t go as far as saying he’s happy about losing, but doesn’t view the experiences negatively either. He believes he’s destined to wear the welterweight strap, so those losses only serve as learned lessons.

“I try to live in the moment and I learn from my losses,” he notes. “I’ve felt that I’ve grown from my two losses in the UFC. It’s been a positive thing. All my fights since then and my fights going forward will be better.”

As for what happened against Lawler, MacDonald is quick to note it’s his fault. He didn’t do the things in training or preparation he was supposed to. He got lazy and now realizes that simply won’t cut it given his ambitions at this level of the sport.

“No, I had a bad camp. My focus wasn’t in it,” MacDonald admits. “If you’re not focused at the top level of this sport, these guys are going to make you pay. I was just training the way I was comfortable with. I wasn’t really pushing myself. It was my fault. At the end of the day, I didn’t work hard enough. Robbie came out and he had a good fight, we had a close fight. I really believe that when I rematch him, it’s going to be another great fight, but I’m going to come out on top.”

As for Saffiedine, MacDonald respects him and is excited to face such a credible challenge. As always, however, he’s “looking to have another dominant performance.” Where it takes him specifically is hard to tell, but it’s all one step in the right direction as far as he’s concerned.

On his journey and as part of his focus, MacDonald recently made a curious change. His Twitter icon is now a lion rather a picture of himself. When pressed on why he made the switch, MacDonald answered in only the way he could: this is about staying focused, eyes on the prize, no distractions. It’s time for business.

“I’m in the hunt mode,” he said matter-of-factly. I feel like right now in the last couple of fights, I’m really hungry. I’m really focused. I’m here for the kill.

“I’m coming for the belt,” he continued. “I’m going to demolish everyone I have to to get to that point.”

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Latest UFC Fight Night 54 fight card and rumors for ‘MacDonald vs. Saffiedine’ on Oct. 4 in Halifax

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing its brand of mixed martial arts (MMA) to Nova Scotia for UFC Fight Night 54, headlined by a welterweight contender match pitting 170-pound phenom Rory MacDonald against Strikeforce import Tarec Saffiedine, airing on FOX Sports 1 with “Prelims” bouts streaming live on the Fight Pass digital network.

Event: UFC Fight Night 54: “MacDonald vs. Saffiedine”
Date: Sat., Oct. 4, 2014 on FOX Sports 1
Location: Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

UFC Fight Night 54 Main Event:

170 lbs.: Rory MacDonald vs. Tarec Saffiedine

UFC Fight Night 54 Undercard And Prelims:

135 lbs.: Raphael Assuncao vs. Bryan Caraway
115 lbs.: Kailin Curran vs. Paige VanZant
170 lbs.: Jingliang Li vs. Nordine Taleb
185 lbs.: Bruno Santos vs. Elias Theodorou
155 lbs.: Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Chad Laprise
135 lbs.: Mitch Gagnon vs. Aljamain Sterling
155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Jake Lindsey
155 lbs.: Paul Felder vs. Jason Saggo
170 lbs.: Matt Dwyer vs. Albert Tumenov

For more news and notes on UFC Fight Night 54: “MacDonald vs. Saffiedine” click here.

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