How Joe Rogan Put Rory MacDonald In A No-Win Situation and Canadian MMA in August
We’re almost halfway through the month of August, and it has been a quiet one thus far on the Canadian scene. With how busy the first half of the year has been (certainly the most active in Canadian MMA history, with Ontario regulating the sport), the lack of activity in August seems a bit unfitting to end the summer season, but the torrid pace we’ve witnessed through July would have been difficult to maintain. Even still, there is some action to review from the month, as well a few more solid cards with plenty of Canadian content to look forward to.
Although it didn’t take place North of the border, biggest happening this month in Canadian MMA has been Rory MacDonald‘s impressive defeat of Mike Pyle. The performance has resulted in a great deal of hyperbole surrounding MacDonald, including Joe Rogan absurdly claiming that MacDonald has more potential than a certain French-Canadian who had already earned two title shots and beaten three different top 10 opponents by the time he was 12-1 in his career. I understand that many in the MMA community are instinctive and overly reactive, but at some point influential figures in MMA do need to draw a line. I feel like Rogan made a huge misstep in proclaiming MacDonald the heir apparent to one of the top fighters in the sport today after a few solid performances.
That’s not to say that MacDonald doesn’t possess a bright future in MMA, as he certainly does, but St. Pierre is on track to have one of the most storied careers in the sport’s history (if you think he doesn’t already fit into that category), and at this point I simply don’t see the same potential in MacDonald. Also, if any performance of Rory’s should have caused people to fly off the handle about his potential, it should have been his bout with Carlos Condit – in which he out-dueled a top 10 opponent for two rounds before being overwhelmed in the third – not a win over a fighter like Mike Pyle, who while solid has never come close to cracking the upper echelon of his division.
Obviously one thing people look at when assessing MacDonald’s potential is his age. While he is significantly younger than GSP at this stage in his career (22 as opposed to 25), we have seen so many times that prospects in MMA don’t follow a linear rate of progression (Chris Horodecki, anyone?). Rory still has room to grow in his career, but to act as if he is going to improve as much in the next five years as he has in the past five is simply unrealistic. We’ve learned this lesson before with young fighters, and we’ll learn it again, but in the meantime it’s unfair to put a fighter like MacDonald in the no-win position of claiming he has more potential than one of the most decorated fighters in MMA.
The other notable Canadian action on UFC 133 saw Ivan Menjivar pick up his second consecutive victory in the Octagon, earning a decision over Nick Pace in a bout many saw as a contentious decision (my scorecard was the same as the judges, and as a sidenote I was glad they didn’t overvalue either Pace’s second round takedown or the one significant knee in the third, instead giving due credit to Menjivar’s solid body of work in the final 10 minutes). The important development I saw from Menjivar in this fight is that he fought much more tactically than he has in the past, especially in the third stanza knowing the fight was on the line. While excitement is nice, in the seemingly faceless Bantamweight division, winning is more important. Aside from Urijah Faber the division doesn’t possess any real draws, so title shots are likely to be awarded to those who can be marketed on the heels of solid streaks rather than who resonates most with casual fans, as no 135ers save for the aforementioned Californian really do so.
Looking ahead, there are two cards left on the Canadian docket in August. One takes place this weekend in Hamilton, and is certainly the more notable, while next weekend features Battlefield Fight League’s 10th installment. The Global Warriors: Uprising card features some of Canada’s best talent in the lighter weight classes, as Bantamweights Adrian Wooley and Josh Hill are both in action (in separate fights). Wooley’s last outing in June saw him drop what many in the Hershey Centre felt was the worst decision of the night to Nick Mamalis, while on the same card Hill showed that he is a solid wrestler, but still needs to refine the other areas of his game in taking a lukewarm unanimous decision over Darin Cooley. The card also features a great deal of local talent who aim to gain themselves some measure of notoriety in the Canadian MMA scene.
The Battlefield Fight League card is much lighter in term of relevance, although it deserves mention simply for the fact that is does feature Marcus Aurelio… no, not THAT Marcus Aurelio. Instead, I’m referring to Marcus ‘Lelo’ Aurelio, who turned in one of the more incredible knockouts in MMA history a little over two years ago. Even better than his knockout might be his ability to cause the onlookers at North American Challenge 24 to bumrush the ring like it was the site of an And-1 Mixtape recording.
Capping off the month of August will be one Canadian in action at UFC 134, as Yves Jabouin moves down to Bantamweight and takes on Ian Loveland in what could be his last chance to stay in the UFC. Despite some exciting performances, including a 2010 Fight of the Year candidate with Mark Hominick at WEC 49, Jabouin is currently 1-3 in Zuffa, and isn’t likely to survive dropping to 1-4. Luckily for Yves, he is facing a fighter in Loveland who doesn’t excel in the submission game which has been, and likely will always be, his weakness. Unfortunately, Loveland is a capable wrestler and any time Jabouin hits his back he is liable to get submitted, which will certainly be something Joe Silva and Sean Shelby ask him to address if he wants to stick around, or return to, the UFC.
Certainly August isn’t the most dynamic month we’ve seen in Canadian MMA, but even in the “slow” months, we’ve reached a stage where there is no shortage of talking points regarding the sport up North, which is a nice feeling. Also remember that if Canadian MMA isn’t your thing this weekend is still set to be a busy one with Strikeforce Challengers 18 on Friday and UFC Live 5 on Sunday. Enjoy.