The co-main event of the UFC on FOX 8 card scheduled for July 27th in Seattle features top welterweights Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. Both men will have a strong case for a title shot with a win in this match, and the books currently have the lines set with MacDonald (-225) favored over Ellenberger (+185).
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Rory MacDonald was the hottest name in the division after his last performance, a convincing win over the legendary BJ Penn last December. Since then he has battled injury, and his place in the UFC title picture has become a question mark, as he has trained with champion Georges St Pierre and is on record stating he won’t fight his friend.
Ellenberger is 8-1 in his last nine fights, and he has put together a 2 fight winning streak since being stopped by Martin Kampmann. Ellenberger has the best opening 3 minutes in the UFC welterweight division, as his aggression, raw athleticism and power in his punches has seen him finish a lot of fights in the opening round.
MacDonald will have a reach advantage, though both men cut a lot of weight to make 170 and are both at least 185 lbs by fight time. MacDonald will probably come out cautious and defensive, as he employs the usual strategy of allowing Ellenberger to flame out.
MacDonald is still very young, and after having praise heaped on him by the boatloads, he has spent 8 months off and heard criticisms for the first time in his career. It may be a wrong impression, but MacDonald is well trained, well prepared and he is a gifted athlete, but he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. There will be a lot of pressure on him this fight, like never before, and at some point it comes down to what you can get your mind to make your body do
Ellenberger is on another plain psychologically. He is brimming with confidence, and he believes his time is now. Being 28 years old, he is at his prime as an athlete and he has been working his way up the ladder with a lot harder opposition than MacDonald. There may be some value in this underdog, as we have yet to see MacDonald’s chin tested, among all the other factors.