The UFC 158 scheduled for Montreal, Canada on March 16th received a blow this week when Rory MacDonald pulled out with a back injury. He was scheduled to face Carlos Condit in the co-main event of the evening, but Condit will now be facing Johny Hendricks in the welterweight co-main event. Meanwhile, Jake Ellenberger will now be facing former STRIKEFORCE welterweight champion Nate Marquardt, as Ellenberger was originally slated to face Hendricks. The UFC is hoping this is not the start of another plague of injuries like the one that affected them throughout last year, but the recovery with good replacement matches announced quickly is a good sign about roster strength in the welterweight division.
Kudos to all the fighters, none of whom seem to have blinked at the changes to a fight that is technically a month away. Top guys who want to fight, they all deserve an ‘honorable mention’ for this one.
Condit and Hendricks especially, as they now have a short camp to prepare for an opponent that is very different than their original tasks. Condit is well balanced and unpredictable, and he is tall and lanky. MacDonald too had stature and length, but now he is facing Hendrix, who is a stocky fire plug of a fighter.
Ellenberger versus Marquardt is interesting, because Ellenberger was preparing for a slugfest with a stocky opponent similar in stature to himself, while Marquardt is coming off a loss in STRIKEFORCE to Tarec Saffeidine. Saffeidine turned the match with Ellenberger down, so Marquardt was offered the shot and accepted.
No word on how severe the injury to Rory MacDonald is, but back injuries can be tricky. He asked for a match with Condit, and perhaps that can be made in the future. Consider this however – if Condit dispatches of Hendrix, he is likely heading back to a title shot against St Pierre. Should Condit not get by Hendricks, he may no longer be the opponent MacDonald is looking for, and MacDonald too will bring question marks back to the octagon with him.
Overall, the UFC deserves credit for artfully re-making a card very quickly after the injury. Now let’s hope there are no more injuries and patch jobs.
Most of the sportsbooks have not put up lines just yet, but both of these fights will likely be near pick ‘em fights. We will see when they hit the books!