Say what you will about his style, but Rory MacDonald’s skill is undeniable. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
In a bout that would likely determine which fighter will get a welterweight title shot early next year, Canada’s Rory MacDonald thrilled the largely biased crowd with a performance he called “the best victory of his career.”
His opponent, heavy-handed striker Tyron Woodley, was never able to land the often talked about one-punch knockout on the rising young protégé of Georges St. Pierre. With the loss, Woodley’s career marked dropped to 13-3, including 3-2 in the UFC.
In many ways, MacDonald continues to fight beyond the guys standing across the cage from him. There are plenty of MMA fans who don’t like his style, the company’s president has been critical of him after many recent fights, and -- on this particular night -- he was likely battling the memory of losing to Carlos Condit in the exact same building four years prior.
Here, the 24-year old MacDonald flipped the script and was announced as the 30-27 winner on all three judge’s scorecards, largely on the backbone of his effective punching and occasional head kicks.
The always quiet and humble Western Canadian native, hailing from nearby Kelowna, British Columbia, was his usual polite self after the win. Yet, he also was quick to pass along a special message the UFC brass. “They should know that I’m ready, and one day very soon the belt will be mine,” he noted.
With his second straight win, MacDonald is slowly starting to silence his critics of a year prior, and getting closer to solidifying his future title shot in the process. However, over the course of his 10 fights for UFC he has also given many viewers reasons to dislike his cerebral approach to fighting. Regardless of where the experts land on the skill debate, most fans still prefer the crash and bang style of fellow challengers Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown to an out-think your opponent strategy often implored by Canada’s new favorite son.
Was this fight convincing enough to steer the masses into a different way of thinking? We shall see.
Related: Matches to Make After UFC 174
WINNING IS FOR LOSERS
It wouldn’t be a UFC pay-per-view without some post-fight discussion and debate regarding the officiating and/or scoring. This week’s exhibit is named Andrei Arlovski. With two judges giving it the former heavyweight champion 29-28, and the descenting judging going with a score of 29-28 Schaub. So, Arlovski won, right?
Not so fast.
Fans booed the decision inside the arena, while people at home threw up their arms and spilled their popcorn and beer. Schuab just held his newly broken jaw in place, trying to stop the pain.
What happened then? How did the winner actually come out the loser in the minds of most observers?
Arlovski and Schuab exchanged few punches over the first two rounds, mixed in with plenty of clinching, which really turned the crowd against them early in the fight.
“Honestly, I feel really horrible,” Arlovski shared. “My plan was knock him out and I didn't want to leave it up to the judges. I wasn't happy about my performance in this fight… It's good that Dana White isn’t here [at the post-fight press conference] because he'd be so pissed at me. He gave me great opportunity. I didn't like my fight tonight.”
The former champion wasn’t the only one. Fans showed their displeasure with the decision via loud boos at the end of the three-round fight.
“For some reason, I was nervous a lot,” Arlovski noted. “When I stepped inside the Octagon; my hands, my legs shook for some reason. I was just nervous more than the first time when I fought 14 years ago. Next time, I promise I'm going to do much better.”
Although he didn’t attend the press conference, White did share some thoughts on Fox Sports 1 later in the evening.
“I think everyone would agree that fight sucked,” White said, getting right to the point as usual. For him, it wasn’t about how the fight was scored. White believed the first two rounds could have gone either way. His issue was the lack of action.
“I made a big mistake putting that on the main card that should be on the prelims. For Schaub to walk around to think he got robbed is hysterical,” White stated. “That fight was horrible. Do you know who lost in that fight? The fans. The fans lost in that fight.”
OSP’s REIGN OF TERROR
GSP may never return to the Octagon, but fans are certainly starting to take notice of OSP: Ovince St. Preux. The light heavyweight took on fellow prospect Ryan Jimmo at UFC 174 and eventually earned a stoppage via choke after Jimmo’s arm was broken.
Now sporting a 16-5 record, OSP is 4-0 in the UFC, so expect some greater hype for his next fight. Outside of champion Jon Jones, few have won four fights in a row in the light heavyweight division of late, regardless of the level of competition inside the cage.
After going 6-1 in Strikeforce, and having not lost a fight in UFC, getting the additional exposure of being on the main card should help raise OSP’s profile a bit moving forward. A top-10 opponent would most likely be next for the Miami native.
With an announced attendance of 13,506 in Vancouver, UFC 174 drew a live gate of $1.14 million. … Kiichi Kunimoto overcame the long odds assigned him by Las Vegas bookmakers in tapping out “TUF: Brazil” fighter Daniel Sarafian -- becoming the first person to do so. Kunimoto earned a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus for his achievement. … Tae Hyun Bang of South Korea claimed $100,000 in bonus money for his fight with Kajan Johnson, earning both “Performance of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” … Tim Tebow, a friend of Brendan Schaub’s, was in attendance to see his buddy’s fight. … Light heavyweight Ryan Badar kneed and elbowed his way to a three-round decision win over Rafael Cavalcante.