MONTREAL – What happens if he gets there is another story for another day, but UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald feels a victory over Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 next month will bring him within reach of a UFC title shot.
“If I continue to have exciting fights and dominant fights and winning, I think I’m very close [to a title shot],” MacDonald told MMAjunkie.com on Monday. “It really depends on how the fights go.”
Similar title conversations were brought up prior to MacDonald’s most recent fight; however, a lackluster showing against Jake Ellenberger in July derailed that momentum.
Fans, media and – in particular – UFC President Dana White were very outspoken about the Canadian’s performance in that fight. MacDonald is aware of it all, though, and he said he’s made the necessary adjustments to avoid a repeat.
“There was a lot of criticism about [my most recent fight],” MacDonald said. “I’ve taken some advice to be a little more exciting, a little more aggressive and also balancing it with being a technical fighter, so there was a lot to learn from that fight.”
While a win over Lawler (21-9 MMA, 6-3 UFC) would make it six straight for the 24-year-old, a MacDonald (15-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) title shot creates conflict at Tristar Gym, where UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre resides as a friend and training partner of the rising contender.
MacDonald and St-Pierre both told MMAjunkie.com a fight between them will never take place, which further complicates the situation.
Seeing as St-Pierre is scheduled to defend his belt against Johny Hendricks on the same night MacDonald meets Lawler (21-9 MMA, 6-3 UFC), the two top 170-pound competitors have spent the entirety of their camp together, which MacDonald claims was hugely beneficial.
“Georges brings in a lot of top-level talent into our training camps, so being able to reap the benefits of those guys coming in is another factor,” MacDonald said. “Just being along Georges and seeing how he leads up to his fights is a great experience for me.”
The two fighters have a tight-knit friendship that goes beyond training, but there’s always the possibility “Rush” could be dethroned by Hendricks, which could make a potential MacDonald title shot less of an issue.
But before any title talks can become a reality, MacDonald must get past Lawler, a notorious power-puncher who proves a tough out for any opponent, especially following his move from middleweight to welterweight.
The pay-per-view showdown inside Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena marks the second fight in four months for MacDonald. It’s the type of schedule the 24-year-old British Columbia native been unable to keep for the past few years due to an assortment of injuries.
The lack of activity had admittedly been frustrating, but MacDonald feels he’s now suitably mature and experienced to the point he can minimize the risk of getting hurt during preparation.
“What we do, sometimes you’re healthy for a long stretch, and other times you have a stretch of injuries and you have to rest,” MacDonald said. “Hopefully I can go on a string of fights and be healthy for a long time.”
MacDonald’s most recent opponents have opted to talk a lot of trash going into the fight, but the reserved Lawler prefers to let his talking take place inside the octagon. MacDonald respects his opponent’s approach, and ultimately, he believes having fewer distractions will allow him to focus on delivering the type of performance needed to move one step close to a coveted title shot.
“It’s a nice change having a guy who doesn’t talk and just comes to fight, and I appreciate that,” MacDonald said. “We’ll put on a good show.”
For more on UFC 167, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.