Welterweight contender Rory MacDonald made a strong case that he’s ready for a future title opportunity by dominating Tyron Woodley in their co-main event clash at UFC 174. In one of the best efforts of his Octagon career, the 24-year-old MacDonald was aggressive from the outset, and employed an effective and diversified striking attack in earning a unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in MacDonald’s favor.
The No. 2 ranked MacDonald will likely have to wait for his title shot, as UFC President Dana White has made it clear that the winner of next month’s Robbie Lawler–Matt Brown fight at UFC on FOX 12 will get the next crack at champion Johny Hendricks. MacDonald has raised his stock substantially since a loss against Lawler at UFC 167 by recording back-to-back wins over Demian Maia and Woodley. He took the loss against “Ruthless” as a good learning experience and has been at the top of his game in his last two performances.
“Ares” is beginning to live up to the hype that he could be a future 170-pound titleholder and follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Georges St.Pierre. The Tristar Gym product utilized his length against Woodley and landed solid jabs, effective leg kicks and punching combinations. He even mixed in a takedown of the standout wrestler in the final round and battered “The Chosen One” with solid ground-and-pound as the fight came to an end. The victory over Woodley improved his career mark to 17-2 and was his eighth Octagon triumph.
As for Woodley, it was a disappointing performance for the previously No. 3 ranked fighter. He was on the defensive for a good bulk of the fight with his back against the cage. Woodley had been looking to make his own statement that he was ready for a title shot, but saw those high hopes dashed.
Woodley has been an explosive performer at times during his UFC career, but inconsistent on other occasions. He simply wasn’t able to get untracked offensively against MacDonald. Woodley landed some effective leg kicks in the early part of the third round, but was unable to seize the momentum away from his opponent. He fell to 13-3 in his career and is now 3-2 in his UFC tenure.
White had challenged both participants to rise to the occasion and make a statement in Vancouver during their meaningful welterweight clash. It was MacDonald delivering a standout effort to seize the moment in a major way.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.