Rory MacDonald wants recognition as the UFC welterweight division’s god of war.
First entering the Octagon in 2010, MacDonald (Twitter: @Rory_Macdonald) made a strong opening statement by submitting Mike Guymon at UFC Fight Night 20 with an armbar that January. He’d next drop a close call to Carlos Condit in June 2010, losing via last-minute TKO at UFC 115.
It’s a defeat that transformed MacDonald, disappointment driving his skills toward new heights. Originally nicknamed “The Waterboy,” he decided he needed a new moniker reflecting fearsome violence. After much soul-searching, MacDonald picked “Ares,” reimagining himself after the ancient Greek deity of combat.
“When I used to be called ‘The Waterboy,’ it just kind of hung on,” MacDonald told MMADiehards’ Punch Drunk Radio on Oct. 30. “I got annoyed by it and just changed it. ‘Ares’ is one of two sides of me. I’m only in that mindset when I’m in the cage.”
“Ares” quickly amassed a 13-1 record, mowing through a murderers’ row of tough competition. He started by dominating Nate Diaz, suplexing him three times in a unanimous decision rout. Next, he destroyed Mike Pyle in a first round knockout. In his most recent massacre, MacDonald battered Che Mills into unconsciousness at UFC 145 last April.
Such an epic run hasn’t satisfied MacDonald’s bloodlust. He’ll next battle 16-8-2 B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn in Seattle, Wash. at UFC on Fox 5 on Dec. 8. Should “Ares” prevail, he’ll cement his status as one of the world’s top welterweights.
So far, no love’s lost between both men. Originally scheduled for UFC 152 last September, their duel was delayed after MacDonald sustained a deep cut while training. Taking issue with the holdup, Penn has questioned MacDonald’s dedication ever since.
“Penn said I was backing out from the fight and that’s just ridiculous,” MacDonald said. “How can you fight with 38 stitches in your head? I would have looked like sh*t. I’m not about to go into the biggest fight of my life with no training for it.”
If MacDonald seems cautious, it’s only because Penn’s a living legend. A titan of MMA, “The Prodigy” has won both the UFC welterweight and lightweight titles. As one of only two champions across weight classes in UFC history, he represents MacDonald’s toughest challenge yet.
“When you see Penn fight you know he’s a real fighter,” MacDonald said. “It’s not about money for him. I think he still wants to go in there and compete and show he’s still got it.”
“Ares” claims Penn won’t display any continued relevance come December. After months of healing, MacDonald said he’s ready for a rise further up the welterweight ranks.
“It’s my life to be at the gym and perfect my art,” he said. “I’m a very hard worker. I like competing and I like fighting. I’m back in the full swing of things now.”
At day’s end, “Ares” added, he thinks he can pulverize Penn fully healed. When the cage door closes next month, he said “The Prodigy” doesn’t have a prayer.
“When it’s your time, it’s your time,” MacDonald mused. “For him, that’s Dec. 8. When there’s a buildup like that, that’s when there’s electricity in the room.”
Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he serves as a digital editor for the Washington Times’ Times247.com in Washington D.C.