Rory MacDonald scored his seventh UFC win in nine fights Feb. 22 when he outpointed Demian Maia for a unanimous decision at UFC 170.
Coming off the victory, trainer Firas Zahabi joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss MacDonald’s performance, what’s next and more.
On Maia’s final takedown and how important it was for MacDonald to get up: “Even though he would have took a beating the whole way through, [Maia] could have won the fight. He could have won it by control. And you know what? I was very worried about that and I didn’t count him out, believe me. I think it all came down to that one get-up. If Maia would have stuffed that get-up, he could have won that fight. It was that close of a fight. If you’re looking at it in terms of scoring, it was extremely close.”
On Maia’s opening takedown: “You know what really impressed me? It was that Maia was able to get the takedown in round one. We put all of our eggs in that one basket to stop the takedown in round one, and he still got it. I was amazed. I was really shocked.”
On MacDonald’s defense: “My biggest concern was Rory getting tired underneath Maia, defending. You’ve got to defend the submission. You’ve got to defend the ground-and-pound. You can’t just relax too much. Rory played it well enough. His jiu-jitsu was good enough not to get tired, not to get crushed, not to be pinned constantly. He was able to get up on his own. … Maia had to work hard to control Rory, so in round two, he was going to be tired. He was not going to have as much explosion as I thought Rory would have.”
On how to get back to your feet against someone like Maia: “You need to get to a sweep or a partial sweep or a submission attempt, and when your opponent defends, you get up. If you look at round one, Rory was trying X guard. He was trying butterfly guard, and Demian was just controlling and countering it. Only in the second round was Rory able to get a partial sweep, and when Demian reacted to that partial sweep, Rory attempted to get up and Demian shot a double again. Rory went back to a sweep. He tossed Demian right over his head, didn’t get the sweep, but he got a very powerful attempt that Maia had to respect. He had to base out. He had to let go of Rory and base out or get swept, and when he based out, he let go of Rory and Rory went up to his feet. I think that’s a smart way to use your jiu-jitsu in reverse and get back to your feet.”
On what’s next for MacDonald: “I’m hoping obviously for [the winner of] Hendricks versus Lawler. That would be the best fight. That would be the biggest fight. It would be the best move for Rory’s career. Are they going to give that? I don’t know. It might be the winner of Condit versus Woodley. It could be the winner of Shields versus [Lombard]. … There’s so many key fights happening, but I would love to see him fight either Hendricks or Lawler.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 33:08).