Rory MacDonald is returning to the cage this June for the first time since his epic title fight with Robbie Lawler last July. The fight was a grueling and violent as any title fight the UFC had put on in the last several years, and MacDonald wound up getting stopped in the fifth and final round, succumbing to the damage done to his face by Lawler’s late offense.
MacDonald reflected on the bout this week in an interview with ESPN.com, and said there’s still at least one part of the fight that still haunts him.
“The fact I was up in the fifth round bothers me a little bit,” MacDonald said. “But right away, when I think of that, I think of how messed up I was and how I couldn’t stand anymore. I really tried to put my poker face on for three rounds before that to show I wasn’t hurt, but I was badly hurt. I used as much will as I could that night.
“Pain comes and goes in fights. I found that when it came to the actual injury, when I would get hit in the nose, that’s when it would hurt. I would forget about it because it wasn’t painful, but it was causing internal damage. Like, I was breathing in blood. It was more feeling those effects, not so much pain. Whenever I would get hit or touched in the face, it would get more and more traumatic.”
MacDonald’s current layoff was the result of both contract negotiations and injury, delaying him several months beyond when he had initially wanted to fight again.
“I came back too early and too aggressive and re-broke my nose,” MacDonald said. “I was sure I would be fighting Hector Lombard around January, but then contract negotiations put a damper on things. It’s a good thing in the long run. More time is better for my health, but I’m anxious to get back in there.”
The 26-year-old now comes back on June 18 in Ottawa, Ontario, taking on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 89.
Penick’s Analysis: MacDonald and Lawler had such a fantastic fight, but it was one of those bouts that took some significant time off their respective careers. It was visceral, it was brutal, and the time off was probably the best thing for MacDonald afterward as he looks to start a new run in 2016. This fight with Thompson is going to put the winner on the short list of contenders for a title fight, and if he has recovered physically and mentally from what he went through last summer, MacDonald has a great chance to be that fighter. We’ll find out come June.
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