The outspoken Rory MacDonald needed a big win to solidify his stake for a title shot in the UFC’s welterweight division. He made a statement on Saturday night by stopping #9 ranked Tarec Saffiedine at the main event of UFC Fight Night 54 at the Halifax Metro Centre in Nova Scotia, Canada.
First main event appearance
Headlining a UFC event for the first time in his career, #2 ranked welterweight contender Rory MacDonald did not disappoint the hometown fans who filled up the arena to cheer him on. He put on a calculated display of skill, poise and power to become the first fighter to stop Tarec Saffiedine in 19 bouts.
After the win, the usually laid back MacDonald finally called out the promotion to give him his title shot: “I want the winner of the next fight. Please, give it to me.” he said during the post fight interview.
He did not have to beg. The emphatic win should put him on the line to face the winner between UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and #1 contender Robbie Lawler. The two combatants are set to headline UFC 181 on December 6 in a rematch of their UFC 171 title bout last March.
Actually, MacDonald had the chance to fight for the vacant welterweight title but he lost to Lawler at UFC 167 in a bout that gave Lawler the shot against Hendricks at UFC 171. But this time, the title shot is pretty much secured for the fighter who was once dubbed as the “future of the welterweight division” by his mentor, Georges St. Pierre.
Refused to be caught in the moment
Saffiedine, the last Strikeforce welterweight champion, started the bout with bad intentions. He tried to steal the show from MacDonald by landing hard leg kicks to slow down the Canadian. He also tried to confuse MacDonald by repeatedly changing stances throughout the contest.
But the 25-year old phenom didn’t get baffled. Even with the crowd chanting his name, he refused to be caught in the moment. He started out with his usual fighting style, taking his opponent to middle of the octagon and peppering him with his laser like jabs. Within three minutes of the fight, he took Saffiedine down already, although he didn’t do significant damage on top.
Cool and calculated approach
His calculated approach only gave him a slight advantage in total significant strikes landed at 47-42, but he came up with the big blows when needed.
Saffiedine piled up the kicks on MacDonald, but when he got too aggressive in the third round his defenses opened up. MacDonald caught Saffiedine with an overhand right that seemed to graze Saffiedine. But MacDonald followed it up with a crushing left hook that dropped his Belgian opponent. Sensing the finish MacDonald followed the helpless Saffiedine to the ground and pounded him with a couple of hammer fists before Herb Dean stopped the bout at the 1:28 mark of round three.
Ready for the title shot
After losing to Lawler in 2013. MacDonald looked like he was ready for a title shot after his back to back wins over Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. But he refused to ask for a title shot and instead took on a tough opponent in Saffiedine because he knew Lawler would get the next crack at Hendricks. But with the emphatic win over Saffiedine on Saturday night, Rory MacDonald left no doubt that he deserves to fight the winner of Hendricks-Lawler.