After withdrawing from his March 16 rematch with Carlos
Condit due to a neck injury, Rory
MacDonald is back in the gym, according to trainer Firas
“He’s having his first workout tonight,” Zahabi told the Sherdog
Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show on Tuesday. “He’s doing some
physical therapy and some physical training, but tonight he’s going
to be drilling for the first time and we’ll see how his neck holds
up. I really want to make sure [the injury] doesn’t happen again. I
don’t want to commit to anything, but I hope he’s back in full
training very soon.”
The 23-year-old MacDonald is one of the rising stars in the UFC.
He’s won four straight, including a dominant victory over B.J. Penn in
December at UFC on Fox 5. However, when he’s ready to fight again,
Zahabi would like to see MacDonald take his time developing.
“I don’t want to put him with guys who have way more experience
than him because it’s just not fair,” Zahabi said. “He has to be
given the chance -- as good as he is -- he has to be given the
chance to gain that experience organically. I don’t want him to
jump up too fast and find out that, ‘Hey, I don’t know as much as I
thought.’ He’s a tremendous talent. He is, and I think if I give
him time to grow, he’ll have a run like [Georges St.
St. Pierre, the UFC’s welterweight champion, is also under Zahabi’s
tutelage at Tristar Gym in Montreal. Certainly Zahabi would be
happy if MacDonald takes the reins at 170 pounds after GSP retires.
With the champ not quite ready to walk out the door, though, it
makes even more sense for Zahabi to groom MacDonald at his own
“I really think that a trainer has to not only train his athlete
but also raise his athlete in the cage in a way that’s
appropriate,” Zahabi said. “You don’t want to just take any name at
anytime. When you have a guy like Rory, he’s very good, yes. Is he
at his full potential? No, he’s not. Part of my job is to not only
train him but to allow him to reach his full potential. I’ve seen
guys with great potential, and it stunts their growth getting
thrown in with a shark too early. It stunts their growth because
now they start to have doubts. They start to lose motivation. They
start to question the techniques that didn’t work. It’s just a
question of also building the guy up as well, not just training
him. You have to also build him up.”
Listen to the full
interview (beginning at 1:06:56).