The Fight Horizon – Rory “Ares” MacDonald vs. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger
An exciting matchup has just been announced in the UFC Welterweight division for the UFC on Fox 8 event in Seattle, where a bout between Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig was the first to be announced. Rory MacDonald will return from injury to take on Jake Ellenberger in a contest that has potential honors for “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Both fighters are coming off of impressive victories, more so for Ellenberger, who recently juggernaut-ed late replacement Nate Marquardt in a barrage of punches to earn a first round stoppage. Meanwhile, MacDonald has been out of action since last December when he dominated future hall of famer BJ Penn. Rory MAC was scheduled to rematch Carlos Condit at UFC 158, but once again had to pull out of the fight with an injury sustained in training.
The Matchup: Rory “Ares” MacDonald vs. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger
Rory Macdonald (14-1 overall, 5-1 UFC)
Strengths: Well-rounded, versatile striking, takedowns, ground and pound
Weaknesses: Prone to injuries during training
Last fight: 12/8/12 at UFC on FOX 5, defeated BJ Penn by unanimous decision
Jake Ellenberger (29-6 overall, 8-2 UFC)
Strengths: Punching power, aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Inconsistent at times
Last fight: 3/16/13 at UFC 158, defeated Nate Marquardt by first round KO
The Date: July 27, 2013 at UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle, WA
Weight Class: Welterweight
What led to it: Rory MacDOnald getting injured meant he was the only top 10 welterweight originally scheduled to fight at UFC 158 that didn’t. Condit needs some time off before preparing for his next fight, Nick Diaz retired (again) and Hendricks vs. GSP is in the books (but without a date as of yet). Ellenberger finished his fight quickly so this fight makes sense more than the originally planned Condit vs. MacDonald rematch since Condit has now lost two fights in a row and Rory is coming off of a (delayed) win.
Why it matters:
This fight may very well decide the next title contender after Johny Hendricks. MacDonald and Ellenberger are ranked #3 and #4 respectively by the UFC. Carlos Condit is #2, but he just lost to the two guys ahead of him in Hendricks and GSP.
The welterweight division has been action packed since GSP’s return from injury, and during his layoff as well. Contenders have essentially established themselves and lined up for potential title shots, with Johny Hendricks clearly at the head of the pack. GSP has already disposed of two of them in Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz, and will take some respite before heading back into a full training camp.
The question mark still hanging over everyone’s head is whether the Silva vs. GSP superfight will come to fruition. Rumors of GSP planning to defeat Johny Hendricks before leaving the welterweight division have abounded, and the way it looks now, that may indeed be the case. If GSP defeats Hendricks as expected, a superfight would make sense at this point in his career, but that’s a huge IF. This would be the perfect time for an upset, if GSP loses sight of the dangers Hendricks presents because of a legacy-cementing superfight with the GOAT.
However, a GSP win here and subsequent abandonment of the division would leave the welterweight title, which has been locked in Fort St. Pierre for the past five years, absolutely wide open. GSP and “Ares” have already established their unwillingness to fight each other, and Rory winning this matchup of top contenders is a very strong possibility. So that has to be playing in both of their minds at this point.
Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger both have the potential to fight for and win a title, along with four or five other guys in the division. This fight will make the path to a title shot much easier, but if GSP leaves the division, don’t be surprised to see both of them vying for the welterweight championship at some point in their futures.