At UFC on Fox 8 on Saturday night the matchup between Rory MacDonald and Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger was primed to label the next welterweight contender and the division’s next rising star. There hadn’t been so much hype and anticipation for a UFC co-main event for a long time, and boy were fans disappointed. A fight that had all the potential of fight of the night that promised fireworks between two of the very best welterweights on the planet did nothing but fizzle and wilt with each passing minute. It was legitimately the most boring fight I have ever seen. I have seen a lot of fights.
Why did a fight that had all the billings of an exciting testament of skill and heart become a complete snooze-fest? There are a few reasons, but the most obvious is that both men fought extremely cautiously. They weren’t fighting to win but to not lose. And herein lies the problem: Dana White all but promised a title shot to the victor of this matchup. All of a sudden two of the most exciting welterweights in the world turn into prodding bores.
After an insufferable fifteen minutes of nothing, a decision was read declaring MacDonald the winner. And just like that another highly-touted contender on the cusp of a title shot gets a major hype-train derailment. MacDonald went from hero to zero in the eyes of a lot of fans overnight, yet he was the lucky one.
It is far better in this sport to win a boring fight, than to lose one. While MacDonald’s jab may have been the so-called ‘move of the fight,’ the onus was on Ellenberger to take action. He needed to react to the situation and actually do something. The normally exciting and explosive Ellenberger was gun-shy and frozen.
In all fairness, the young MacDonald did exactly what he had to do to win. He never allowed Ellenberger to close the distance without feeding him a stinging jab to the face, and in doing so, he proved that Ellenberger is not yet championship material. The Juggernaut simply did not rise to the occasion. A champion can absorb the pressure and adversity of the moment and strive to overcome it. The disinterested Ellenberger showed no such passion.
What lies next for either fighter at this point is not clear. It would be a hard sell to announce MacDonald as the next man in line for a title shot after such a performance. In a post-fight interview the young Canadian remained adamant that he will never fight the champion, his friend and training partner Georges St-Pierre, discussed here.
Somewhere out there I can hear St-Pierre in his robotic French-Canadian accent saying, “I am not impressed by your performance.”