Some UFC fighters have to wait years for their big shot, while others can barely believe their good fortune when offered career-changing fights.
This week, two Canadian mixed martial artists found themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum. No. 14-ranked bantamweight Mitch Gagnon fights Renan Barao Saturday in Brazil in a bout that could jumpstart his career. Gagnon, who is just 4-1 in UFC bouts, can fast-track his path to the top of the division with a win.
“If I win, they have a new contender,” Gagnon told The Sudbury Star about the UFC’s matchmaking. “I’m Canadian, too. And if he does win, he’s a former champ, and he’s right back in the mix. By no means do I think (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva and all of (the UFC brass) think I don’t have a chance. I’ve been on a tear and you can call my fighters not top 10 in the world, I agree, but I’ve been putting them away easily. This is a test for me.”
Actually, based on the odds, it’s a humungous test. Sports Interaction has Barao, the former champion, set as a -749 favorite with Gagon the +452 underdog.
Meanwhile, news came out Thursday that welterweight Rory MacDonald, who has been billed the next coming of Georges St-Pierre for years, won’t be getting the title shot he was offered earlier this year. After MacDonald disposed of Tarec Saffiedine in October, UFC president Dana White said the Canadian would get a shot at the belt on his home soil.
Well, that’s on hold for now after Robbie Lawler beat Johnny Hendricks in a decision earlier this month to take the belt. Now, it’s expected the UFC will schedule a third fight between Lawler and Hendricks which leaves MacDonald on the outside looking in.
Still, at just 25 years old, MacDonald has time on his side, not to mention a sparkling 18-2 record in the octagon.
“It’s all good. I’m just gonna light up whoever is next. Like always,” MacDonald said.