In today’s modern sports world, it seems unlikely a high-performance athlete wouldn’t watch film on an opponent.
Then there’s Rory MacDonald, the soft-spoken mixed martial arts fighter from Quesnel, B.C., who meets Tyron Woodley in a Welterweight bout scheduled to go three rounds at UFC 174 in Vancouver on Saturday.
MacDonald can give you the basic scouting report on his opponent — “He’s a powerful, explosive guy, good wrestler and good power,” the 24-year-old said, as the UFC held a media day at the EA Campus in Burnaby.
He admitted his trainers watch tape, but MacDonald doesn’t, which he called “somewhat unique.”
“For me, I don’t care. I’ve fought a lot of people in the past, never seen them, never heard of them, and had to deal with their problems,” said MacDonald, who has a 7-2 record in UFC.
“I find it easier to do it like that. Just reacting in the cage.”
The UFC previously come to Vancouver twice. MacDonald, who now fights out of Montreal, was on the first ever card at Rogers Arena four years ago.
For the local favourite, the night ended in a bloody and gruesome loss. Carlos Condit slammed his fists into MacDonald’s head, rendering him helpless in the third and final round of a fight he very well could’ve won had he somehow, miraculously held on for the final few seconds.
The man opposite him on Saturday is just as capable of inflicting the same kind of damage — Woodley’s last three victories have come by knockout, including two in the first round.
“I’m really focused on the task at hand here and I’ve taken that experience and I’ve learned from it,” said MacDonald of his loss to Condit four years ago.
“You just get over it. I accept it, you know? Losing can be a good thing in the long run for a martial artist. You learn your weaknesses and you turn them into strengths.”
FLYWEIGHT CHAMP PRIMED FOR THE BIG TIME
The Flyweight title has been around for less than two full years, yet for the first time ever this division will headline a pay-per-view event at UFC 174.
“It just shows, you look at all the flyweight fights in the UFC, there hasn’t been one boring one,” said Demetrious Johnson, nicknamed ‘Mighty Mouse,’ and the current holder of the title.
“Obviously there’s boring fights in every single division. I’m going to tell you that right now. But I haven’t sat there and watched a Flyweight fight and I was like, ‘Man, that was pretty boring.'”
Fighting out of Parkland, Wash., which is just south of Seattle, Johnson became the UFC’s first ever Flyweight champion on Sept. 22, 2012. He’s fought three more times since then, all of those coming on UFC on Fox.
Come Saturday, it will be him and Ali Bagautinov of Dagestan Republic, Russia, taking the spotlight at Rogers Arena. It’s the main event, and it comes right after British Columbian Rory MacDonald takes on Tyron Woodley in front of the home crowd.
They might not be the biggest competitors, neither unable to break free of the five-foot-five-inches mark, or 130 pounds. But for Johnson and Bagautinov, it’s their stage.
That won’t change how Johnson approaches this fight.
“A buddy of mine the other day said I’m never attached to the outcome,” he said.
Johnson, who stands only 5’3″ and weighs 125 pounds, all of which appears to be nothing but muscle, enters this bout with a 19-2-1 record in MMA.
His last fight came Dec. 14, when he earned a first-round knockout against Joseph Benavidez. He’s won four times by knockout, while earning seven more victories via submission.
He’s earned honours such as Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night and Knockout of the Night – the resume of someone who, in this industry, can put on a wildly entertaining show in the Octagon.
Bagautinov enters this fight with a 3-0 record in the UFC, but has won his last 11 records overall. He brings the element of Sambo, a form of martial arts developed in the former Soviet Union, according to the World Combat Games.
Johnson, who has never faced someone with a Sambo background before, tried to stay on record that this was “just another fight,” but he also couldn’t deny the opportunity less than 48 hours away.
“The UFC is giving us a shot to headline a big pay-per-view, so I’m pretty pumped to be the man to front that bill and hopefully we put on an exciting show on Saturday.”