Home Sports EXCLUSIVE: Rory MacDonald Opens Up on his Upcoming PFL Journey and Beyond

EXCLUSIVE: Rory MacDonald Opens Up on his Upcoming PFL Journey and Beyond

EXCLUSIVE: Rory MacDonald Opens Up on his Upcoming PFL Journey and Beyond

‘Red King’ Rory MacDonald is on the verge of starting a new journey with PFL in his glittery MMA career. After being one of the best in the UFC and a world champion in Bellator, MacDonald has got new challenges and goals ahead. He recently connected with us to discuss them.

ES: At the same time, like you really got to spend some valuable time with your family and we know that being a world champion fighter is not at all easy like you don’t often get that time, you go out to fight nights; you go out to perform every time. So do you see it as a bliss, like getting this time off from the hectic schedule and getting some time to spend with your family? Is it a bliss to you or are you still vexed about not being able to fight five times a year as per your plan?

Rory: No, I mean I tried to live in the moment and enjoy you know, present life and like you said its a blessing to be able to spend time with my family. We have been able to travel a little bit together and go do some fun things and you know just focused on that for a little while and fighting has taken a back seat so I am just rolling with the punches a bit, you know, this is out of my hands. I mean if it was my choice I was ready to get in there and compete and do my job, but you know, like I said, it’s out of my hands and just gonna enjoy what life is, where we are at right now.

ES: So you are ready to go with the flow. You always live in the moment that’s what you are saying and that’s really great to know. Now very soon sports community is coming back in action it’s actually back in action but fan-attendance can also be a valid thing very soon like there’s a boxing fight on October 31, which is going to bring back the fans and considering that we can hope that the upcoming PFL 2021 season can also happen amid fans. So how excited are you to get back into the action and putting in a performance in front of your loved ones after such a huge gap?

Rory: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I felt like in the last few months during this whole quarantine thing I have kind of hit a new level of my skills and I am ready to go out there and show it. I feel like I am gonna bring the action more than I have in the past and I feel like I am gonna be more dominant than ever.

ES: So, did you add anything extra in your training regime or life schedule specially for the PFL journey or it’s the same, you are seeing it as a MMA journey and nothing much has changed?

Rory: No, not really much has changed. I mean I am just trying to work harder than ever and you know, make this chapter of my career the best and most successful yet. I had some time to look back at my career and I have been able to adjust and see the things I wanna change moving forward. You know I have a big opportunity ahead of me and I wanna grab that and be successful; you know.

ES: Now talking about successful chapters in your life, you really had many of them. You have been a top-rated fighter in the UFC; you have been a world champion at the Bellator and I still remember when you parted ways with the Bellator; you did it on a high note. You grabbed the belt over there and you were the number one free agent when you released you released your way from the Bellator MMA. So how did the contract with PFL land up? Like was it an instant offer from the or did you receive offers from any other promotion too?

Rory: Yeah, there was a lot of interest I think from you know collectively in the MMA community, but PFL really jumped out at me, gave me the best opportunity. I felt like it was the best deal for myself and you know; I felt like there was a lot of potential with me and the PFL, the way their format is, the more fights per year, and obviously you know the prize money as well?

ES: Definitely, So that’s what I wanna ask you, obviously being a world champion and getting the prize money, that is absolutely a goal for each and every fighter that are performing out there in the PFL but considering that you are a veteran of the sport what else do you seek from this journey? Apart from being the winner or being the champion. What else do you expect?

Rory: I wanna elevate my name to being in the talks of the best welterweights in the world, you know. That’s the kind of performances that I wanna have out there, and I want my name to be in that conversation of who the best welterweight in the world is.

ES: So you want to be the best welterweight fighter in the world. Now a lot of fans have also wanted to see you in the middleweight division.  A lot of fans have always enquired that Rory Macdonald is absolutely perfect for that division, too. Now, what do you feel about it? Is it going to be a welterweight journey for you or are you planning to shift to the middleweight at some point down the line?

Rory: Well, I tried my time at middleweight. I fought Gegard Mousasi. Unfortunately, I didn’t show up completely focused during that big fight but you know it didn’t go very well for me and I don’t know I felt like I don’t know I didn’t think it was a good fit for me.

ES: So, for the timing, it’s just going to be a welterweight journey. That’s what you are saying?

Rory: Yeah, for now. I mean future, but I mean at the moment I have no interest in going at the middleweight right now.

ES: Definitely, and a few days back we had a world with Peter Murray and he was really obliged to have someone like you in his roster and Peter Murray also said that he believes that you haven’t hit your prime yet. You are 31-years-old and considering that you have been through so many battles; you have been a world champion, he still believes that you are yet to produce your best performance. So do you agree or you feel that the best performance has come out and you don’t need to prove anything else in this sport?

Rory: No, I agree with that. I mean. I really. That’s the big motivation for me to go out there and to prove that my best days are in front of me and not behind me, which a lot of people, you know kind of assume about me with my MMA career. They believe that you know; I am more on the downhill, but I am really looking forward to changing that view on myself. I am very confident about it too.


ES: As you just said that you want to be the best welterweight in the world and you have already been a world champion, you have already been through so many intense fights, and whenever we talk about great fights, there’s no way we can miss out on your action. So what do you think, what extra do you need in your journey to cement yourself as the greatest welterweight? because you are just 31 years and you have done it all, you have been a world champion. You have seen it all, what else do you need?

Rory: I think my performances. I want to be able to express myself. The way that I feel that I can inside the cage. I don’t think looking back at the career that I have done like totally the job that I want in my past. I wanna go out there and totally let myself out there and ensure the world what I have and for and you know for my name to be at that best welterweight conversation.

ES: Definitely we are optimistic that you are definitely gonna do it. You are confident that you are gonna do it and PFL 20201 season is going to bring a lot of new things into your platter. Like I know you have been through so many promotions but you have never been into a season based format. Now that’s a really big change for you like in UFC or Bellator it’s a never-ending process. You go out there; you finalize the date with the administrators with your team, and irrespective of the results of the fight; you get back to the gym to hit the dates again, but in PFL the procedure is absolutely different. It’s just like an NBA game or an American football season, so how are you looking forward to cope up with this change?

Rory: I believe it’s consistency you know it’s a grueling format because you know if you are gonna make it to the finals that’s five fights in a short amount of time. I think it’s like May-June ish to December thirty-first. So there’s not a lot of time to take those five fights on. So it’s hard on your body and I think it’s just gonna take consistency in the training room rather than, you know.

Whereas if you are fighting more in a normal format, been training a lot for a fight, then take some time off and then get back in there again when you have another fight to heal up your injuries and stuff in between, but with this format, you will really have to stay consistent in the gym and you know kinda be at top shape throughout all those months you have to be you know in peak physical shape and focused as well.

ES: Now you are someone who has always come back stronger from defeats. Like defeat is an inevitable part of the sport. You are not going to write it off instantly;

You have to face it. What matters is that how strong you can emerge out of it and you have always done that in your career but considering a season-based format, a particular defeat like in a kickoff game can pull you off for the entire season, So did it put an impact on your training regime? Like these are the fights that I cannot afford to lose, like are you keeping that kind of mindset when you are preparing for the PFL 2021 season?

Rory: There’s no room for error in the PFL format. You have to be dominant all the way through. There’s no breaks, you know. Sometimes layoffs between fights can make you unfocused, unmotivated, things like that but with this certain format, it’s good for me. It keeps my eye on the prize; it keeps me hungry for the next step forward, and I think that’s important for me to keep my sword sharp and ready for battle. I think time off you know after a win hasn’t always been that well for me in the past as far as my mental focus for the sport, at times I wear off and I lose focus in my goal. So, I believe the PFL format, it’s going to demand that I stay present and focused on in my goal and go after it 100%.

ES: Now, definitely PFL is going to bring a lot of new things for you. It’s already bringing a lot of new things for the entire fight community. Like none of us expected to get a season-based format in MMA until and unless PFL did it and it’s great to see you in there and PFL is also doing some great things with their technological evolution. It’s not just about evolving the sport. It’s also about introducing new elements to it. So how do you feel about being a part of this technological evolution apart from the entire evolution going throughout the sport?

Rory: Yeah it’s exciting I think PFL has a very good mindset. They wanna innovate and you know make progression in the sport you know, involve new technologies into it and I think that’s very wise. It’s smart for their business and it’s gonna be a success.

ES: Like they were, they were the first organization to introduce punch speed and they are also optimistic about introducing kick speed this year, now that is really new for the fight fans. When you look into the other sports you get to see the statistics being displayed on the screen but when it comes to MMA.

I feel that somehow we are still lacking on that, but PFL is doing the best to cover it up like when you are throwing a punch or when you are throwing a kick; the statistics are going to get displayed on screen and that is really a premium MMA content for the fifth fans. So what did you feel like, would it encourage you to throw an extra punch or an extra kick, knowing that the stats are going to get displayed, or are you really unbothered about all those things?

Rory: As far as being in a fight, there is nothing for me. I mean, it’s more for the fans, commentators, and conversations on how the fight is going on or people looking at. I mean, when I am fighting; I am just in the zone trying to hunt my opponent down and you now go for the win. So it doesn’t really play a part for me until I watch the fight afterward.

ES: You are ready to hunt down your opponents, but you are someone who hasn’t been a fan of trash-talking. It has always been about getting inside the cage and proving that you are the best. Now, somehow we have seen that fighters who really believe in trash-talking, they have emerged out to be such huge superstars, but you, despite not believing in that stigma you are still a big superstar. So how did you do that like despite not being a trash-talker you still bring so much attention, so many people are fan of you and you somehow manage to entertain all the fight fans. So how do you do that without trash-talking?

Rory: I don’t know, I just try to be myself and I always felt that my performance should speak louder than my words. I know the sport has evolved from that you know, it’s also entertainment for a lot of people now with the drama between fighters. For me when I grew up with the sport it was never about that so my foundation was more about the competition and the skills that was what kinda took my interest about Mixed Martial Arts.

So I was never really, I never really prepared myself for that type of thing and I don’t feel like when I try to trash talk or create drama, it doesn’t fit me, doesn’t suit me. So I would rather just be myself and you know, be a strong competitor and focus on what I know that I am great at. That’s just going out and fighting hard, and that’s really it.

ES: Do you feel that trash-talking should exist in this era, or is it the fighter’s personal call whether they want to do it or not? Like often a fighter does just to sell the PPV or just to promote the fight. What do you feel like, should this system prevail or it’s just their own call?

Rory: Yeah, it’s a hard thing to say because at the same time I have been able to know that. I don’t really enjoy it as when I watch it or I see fighters doing it. I usually like, find it very cringy and I don’t like it but at the same time, it also brings eyes to the MMA community that, without that probably wouldn’t have been interested in the fight game. I don’t know.

It seems like once you know, like Conor like you know, that charismatic, you know brash-talking, it really elevated the sport you know, obviously his performance followed like which is important about that. I think the drama really grabbed people that wouldn’t have been a martial arts fan. You know that’s why they started watching the fights.

Seeing those fights are exciting, but I don’t know it’s hard to say. I enjoyed mixed martial arts that’s kind of at the point of main-stream now, but I also think that it leaves a bit of a stain on what martial arts are about and the youth and their views on being a martial artist. You see videos of kids trying to imitate; I think you know, it’s not exactly a healthy thing, a healthy mark to leave on society I guess.

ES: You are really excited about your upcoming PFL journey and you are entertained about it, so is it going to be your last shelter in terms of MMA career or are you open to exploring several other promotions in the future?

Rory: I believe in free agency and you know finding the best deal possible. There are a lot of brands out there that you know you can find your value. So I think exploring that free-agency is important. You know I’m happy how it has turned out for myself. I think it’s a good idea. Obviously, you have to build up your name to be able to do that and with good performances but if you aren’t successful and you don’t feel like you are getting paid like a lot of guys do in the sport right now, you gotta go try another round. The only other way is to take it into your own hands and that can be a little bit scary because you know leaving a major organization, you know there’s a lot of critique about that.

There are a lot of people that have tried to you know play, they tried to fill in the blanks like why this happened and usually it’s because they write you off if you wanna go somewhere else, but I don’t really believe in that. I think a lot of people have; they see a major organization like the UFC and they think all the best fighters are in there, but history has played out that it’s not always the case. I mean when UFC took on the WEC and the Strike Force fighters and they dissolved all their fighters into the UFC.

We have seen a lot of those fighters and champions coming to the UFC, and really you know to be dominant so same thing for today. There are a lot of top-level fighters in organizations around the world and you know I think UFC has done a really great job and promoting their fighters and their brand for people the general consensus to be that the best fighters are there but I think it’s important that fighters don’t hold on to that and they go seek with what’s best for them and their career. You know.

ES: Now talking about your ride in UFC. There’s no way we can miss out on Robbie Lawler vs Rory Macdonald. I mean those two fights were great, people still recall those two fights and both of you outpointed each other on certain occasions, but somehow Lawler walked away with the win both the times. So when you look back at the fight. Do you see yourself doing something differently or have you totally moved on from that fight?

Rory: Yeah my style has changed a lot over the years and looking back, yeah I would have fought different but you know, it’s in the past, It was a great experience and you know that second fight with Robbie elevated my career; I guess people’s perspective of me; you know it was a huge fight for me and my career. Even though I lost, I mean, it still elevated my career and my name more than any other win I ever had. So, you know, yeah, I have learned from it as a martial artist and I have made an improvement over the years from every loss.

ES: Like, it’s bizarre to think that a person whose nose was actually bleeding, standing out there, was actually a family man. I mean I side the octagon you are absolutely a great, sensible fighter but outside of it, you are a father; you are a husband. So which one is the tougher role to play, I would say, being a fighter, or being a husband or a father or a family man? Which one is more tough?

Rory: I don’t know, both have their challenges at times and you know it’s hard to say, I mean. I would have to say being a fighter is probably harder. I mean physically, but marriage and stuff always takes, you know, evolving with the person, growing together and stuff so they both have their challenges.

ES: Being a father, being a husband, did it bring any sort of changes in your fight plan? Did you evolve as a fighter too, or is it just about evolving in the life journey?

Rory: Yeah, absolutely, you have to grow up when you get married and stuff. You can’t be like as selfish as you were you know, (when you were) bachelor you know and it definitely is a healthy change so.

ES: So Rory, we have got a couple of fan questions for you and firstly our fans want to know that what is that one advise or one message you wanna put out for all the fathers and husbands out there in the world, like from your personal experiences? One message or one advice?

Rory: I would just say you know. Take every moment that you get with your family and enjoy every moment. I think family and children, having a wife, you know being married it’s a special blessing from God and you know it’s I think when we are giving something like that you have to just sit back and enjoy every day, every moment you can because you know it’s a very special thing. I try to do that every day, you know, my kids, they grew up so fast. So I try really just to enjoy everything, every moment I can, with them.

ES: What’s the favorite time pass you wanna do with your family or you generally do with them whenever you get some spare time?

Rory: Well, they are still so small. I mean, my little boy just started walking. So, I roughhouse with him in the house a little bit and you know taking for walks and I have my four-year-old daughter. She is, you know, she is like a little princess; she loves to do these little girly things. Sometimes she wants me to play with her and all those like girly stuffs, dolls and I try to get involved with that.

ES: And you do really enjoy doing that because that’s the time you don’t wanna lose, don’t wanna miss out on. So, it’s really great to know.

Rory: Yeah. It’s fun you know to share laughter and stuff with your kids and see them smile. So yeah, I enjoy that.

ES: I don’t know whether you get much time to watch a movie or not. Considering that you have always been busy with your fights but if you get some time like what kind of movies do you wanna watch and what’s your favorite movie of all time?

Rory: Yeah, I still watch movies, not as much as I used to. I mean with kids it’s definitely, it’s harder to watch a movie every night but I like western movies. I have recently watched, what was it, ‘Three ten to Yuma’ and the ‘Hostiles’ was really good. Those are a couple of my favorite western movies.

ES: If not for an MMA fighter, what would have Rory Macdonald been? If not an MMA fighter, what career would you have liked to go ahead with?

Rory: To be honest, I started in mixed martial arts professionally when I was 16. I was still in high school and I was doing, I was working odd jobs at that time, just to kind of, you know, have an income to live and support myself to train martial arts but my goal was always focussed on being a full-time mixed martial artist. So I never really had any other aspirations as a young-adult. As a kid, I always liked athletics, I was always involved in sports. So you know, I knew it was going to be something to do with the sports world but it was fighting that, really; you know, took over that I had the most skill in.

ES: Growing up who has been your best welterweight fighter of all time, whenever you saw him, you felt like, okay; I need to be like this guy and who was your favorite fighter of all time? If not only in welterweight.

Rory: Yeah, I mean, I always felt that Georges St-Pierre was obviously the best welterweights. Still do. He has just accomplished what no one else has, even in any other weight division. He has just got an amazing resume; he has done so much, and I have also been able to have the opportunity to train alongside him and learn from him. That’s made a huge impact on my career, his martial arts style. So I would say, Georges.

ES: If you ever get a chance to fight with any of the fighters you want. So who would it be, and why?

Rory: Who would I fight?

ES: If you ever get a chance to fight against any of the fighters from any era, just a fantasy matchup. Who would you want to fight, and why?

Rory: Right now, I probably wanna re-match Douglas Lima because he beat me last and I think I can beat him.

ES: Yeah, definitely, a lot of people believe that you can actually outpoint Douglas Lima, but what if a fight between you and Georges St-Pierre ever happens? Do you see yourself beating him? Your idol?

Rory: I mean it’s a question that I got asked a lot of times in my younger UFC career because I was training with Georges and I was winning fights and he was a champion for the whole time and so everyone wanted to see, oh yeah, when is he going to take on George, you know, they are teammates; they wanted to; they are always asking about it in every interview I did for years and years and years. I always said that I would never do that.

Georges always gave me a helping hand and, for us in the gym, I always felt like they gave me a lot of help as a young guy. So I didn’t want to disrespect anybody, and we were really always really good with training partners and I don’t like to say that I can beat Georges because Georges has done so much more than I have in the sport and he has been a big influence on me and my career. I also don’t like to say that I would lose to anybody.

 ES: Definitely.

Rory: I would compare both of our careers. Georges always shows up, and he is always clutch in the big moment, in the big fights and he never disappoints. Whereas if you look at my career. I am not always the most clutch guys, sometimes I lose focus and I don’t show up and I think, that’s been, you know, an issue in my career but Georges is always rock solid.

ES: I can see your daughter calling. I think she is calling.

Rory: Yeah, my son is at the door right now.

ES: Okay, okay, and like I have recently heard that Khabib Nurmagomedov has called out Georges St-Pierre a couple of times and if that fight happens, it’s going to be one of the biggest fights of the sport. Do you see Khabib beating ‘GSP’ or you believe that ‘GSP’ would get over Mr. Nurmagomedov?

Rory: I think Georges would win that fight. Khabib’s obviously one of the best that has ever done. I mean, he is an amazing martial artist. I just think that George’s striking would be the difference. I think his understanding of distance and striking abilities will really make the difference in that fight. That’s my opinion.

ES: So you are on George’s side absolutely for all the valid reasons and a few days back after UFC 252 you also said that the shape of the MMA gloves should be changed, considering that there are too many eye pokes happening in the sport. So, how do you see that happening like what changes could they do with the gloves?

Rory: Well, take a look at Bellator’s gloves or you know the old Pride FC, they had a glove that, this part of the glove (fist) had a curve here, okay, whereas a lot of the gloves now they keep your hands like this. So your hand is in the glove, you really have to squeeze it to make a fist. So when you are gonna throw a punch, a lot of times, your hand is relaxed and then you squeeze in the end, it speeds up your punch to not put as much tension in your shoulders and to gas yourself up.

You don’t force a punch all the way through. You usually keep your relaxed hands, you snap it from your shoulders and close in the end. So a lot of the times, when guys are tired or they are in the middle of a fight, the reaction is to throw the punch the way they are trained to, and sometimes the hand will get there faster or there is a collision and your hand is still like this. You know, because the glove has forced your hand out in that position.

And Bellator’s gloves, Pride’s gloves, they are curved like this already at in their relaxed position. So even if you collide and your hand is still open. You are still hitting here, your fingertips are underneath.

ES: That’s the change we need to see.

Rory: That’s the problem. If you look into the stats of these organizations, where the most eye pokes are, and look at the types of gloves they are using and it will explain a lot of things.

ES: Like I mentioned that eye pokes are really hampering the spirit of the sport at a certain stage, so I believe MMA organizations should look at it on a very serious note and as you said, this is really a helpful suggestion like organizations can really look into the matter and they can introduce it, so really a great idea coming from an active MMA fighter himself.

Rory: Thank you. I have tried to get PFL to do it. I have mentioned it to them and hopefully, before the next season, they can introduce a glove that’s you know.

ES: Absolutely a better MMA experience for the fans and the fighters itself, that’s a great step. Now if you wanna suggest anything to the young fighters, like the young Rory MacDonalds who aspire to become world champions at a certain stage and they are still fighting in their life. What advice do you wanna give to all those young MMA fighters out there?

Rory: Yeah, to stay focused on the martial arts and skills you know, work hard in the gym. Don’t get too carried away with the talking aspect of it, just work on yourself and be the best person, inside and outside of the cage and you know, let your skills speak for you. Don’t try to be anything that you are not just because the culture of the sport is you now, kind of puts pressure on people to make them feel like that, to be that brash star. You don’t have to, you just be a good competitor, fight hard and people will notice you and you will go for it.

ES: A lot of fighters these days, what they do is they get with the social media and stuff. They act brashy and they act like they are superstars, which is not partially wrong. I mean, they are free to do that. It’s their choice but before becoming an elite superstar. Do you feel that putting yourself out there like a superstar or being brashy, it’s really necessary, or it’s up to a particular fighter’s call? What’s your take on it?

Rory: I mean, I see that you know when there’s a lot of guys that still fighting on the regional scene and they talk like they are the number one contender in the UFC and I just don’t get it at all where they get that attitude or you now, they should be more respectful like I feel of their competitors. I understand that sometimes they are heated and you know relationships that happen once in a while against competitors, but for the most part you don’t even know the other person. You have never met them.

You only see them compete so I feel like showing respect and you know fighting hard is the best thing you could do as a martial artist, you know. I respect all the people that I have went up against even when I have been trash-talked. You know sometimes it got under my skin a little bit, but you know; I have no hard feelings looking back.

ES:  You managed to deal with it and you emerged out stronger. That’s what the entire world saw.

Rory: Yeah, I mean words don’t make any differences in a fight any way it’s just you gotta go out there and fight hard.

ES: So that’s all for today. Thank you so much for joining with us Rory Macdonald and then you so much for sharing so many personal, so many professional informations about your life, about your career, and giving us so many insights about the sport of MMA. I hope we will interact again in the future. So lastly, if you wanna say something to the fans.

Rory: I appreciate for having me on the show and absolutely we can do another interview again and I don’t know, I appreciate all the fans that you enjoyed my fights and I hope you guys will tune into my next fight with PFL because I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how far I have improved my skills and the way I am bringing the fight to the next guy I am up against. You are going to see a hungrier, a better version that you haven’t seen in the past.

ES: We wish you all the best ‘Red King’ for your upcoming journey with PFL, and we know you are going to shine like a star that you have always been. Thank you so much viewers for tuning in, stay safe, stay well, we will be back with another action in the future. Thank you so much.

Read More | EXCLUSIVE: PFL CEO Peter Murray Opens up About 2021 Season and More

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