MacDonald’s Plan Against Okami: Push the Pace

By Andy Cotterill Oct 18, 2007
It was just over a year ago that Jason MacDonald (Pictures) came seemingly out of nowhere and scored an easy submission victory over popular "The Ultimate Fighter 3" finalist Ed Herman (Pictures).

Since then he's had impressive victories over two other TUF alums in Chris Leben (Pictures) and Rory Singer (Pictures) and only one loss, which came from the heavy hands of former middleweight champion Rich Franklin (Pictures).

This Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio, "The Athlete" has what may be his most important fight to date, as the victor of his bout with Yushin Okami (Pictures) could emerge at the top of a very short list of fighters in contention for the UFC middleweight title.

MacDonald spent two of his final weeks of preparation far away from his home in the province of Alberta, Canada, when he traveled east to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to train at Titans BJJ and Muay Thai.

At Titans, MacDonald found a squad of training partners intensely preparing for their own fights. Most notably the camp included Roger Hollett (Pictures), who fights American Top Team's Lew Polley at Extreme Cage Combat 6 on Saturday.

"I wanted to come down and spar with some big strong guys," MacDonald says, "and there are a lot of guys in the gym every night, and the intensity is there."

As for Okami, MacDonald has been analyzing the Japanese fighter's style.

"Everything I've seen so far from Yushin Okami (Pictures), he's not a finisher," he says. "He tends to give up the first couple of rounds and tries to get you to fight at his pace, which is a very slow pace. He does a lot of backing up, then usually he comes alive in the third round and tries to steal the fight."

However, MacDonald expects to capitalize on Okami's counter-fighting style.

"My intention for the fight is just to take him completely out of his fight," MacDonald says. "I feel I'm known for my aggressiveness. Sometimes it comes back to bite me in the ass, but I like to go out there and set the pace and dictate the pace and really push my style of fighting. And that's what I intend to do against Yushin Okami (Pictures)."

In accomplishing this goal MacDonald feels that the deciding factor will be his athleticism, something that Hollett, a training partner who is known to have excellent cardio, can attest is impressive.

"His conditioning is sick," Hollett says. "We were doing hill sprints the other day, and he lapped me and Ryan Jimmo -- his conditioning is incredible."

Cardio could very well play an important role Saturday against a quality opponent like Okami. The matchup is tough, but it's also one MacDonald requested.

"I asked for this fight against Yushin Okami (Pictures) because I want to continue fighting the tougher opponents, and stepping up the competition to prove that I belong in the top of this division," MacDonald says.

With a win Saturday, the next step up for MacDonald may just be a title shot.
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