Rory MacDonald the No. 2 contender in the UFC’s highly-competitive welterweight division is set as an underdog in Saturday’s co-main event against Tyron Woodley even though the bout is in Vancouver, British Columbia – also known as MacDonald’s hometown.
Let that sink in for a minute. Rory MacDonald, taking his 16-2 MMA record into Saturday’s fight, was a +110 underdog against Tyron Woodley (14-2) as of Thursday afternoon. The odds have tightened a bit to put him at -111 with Woodley at -125, but the Canadian remains the underdog.
Hometown advantage is absolutely huge in the UFC. Not only will MacDonald have the crowd behind him, but he could also get some help from the judges if the fight goes to a decision. While nobody in the UFC likes to admit that last bit, it’s the truth. Just look at last week’s UFC Fight Night action in Mexico, where Diego Sanchez somehow won a decision over Ross Pearson. That fight wasn’t even close. Pearson arguably won all three rounds, yet there was Sanchez getting his hand raised in the end. It was such a poor decision that UFC president Dana White even gave Pearson his win bonus despite the official result.
Hopefully nothing like that happens again Saturday. The MacDonald vs. Woodley winner could easily end up as the next guy to step into the octagon with Johny Hendricks. So there’s a lot on the line here, which makes this match even tougher to handicap.
“It’s a big fight for both these guys,” White told UFC.com. “Woodley has to go out and make people want to see him in a title fight. This is his big opportunity. So let’s see it. Go out and deliver this weekend and make people talk about you and see you in a title fight.”
The thing about both of these fighters is they have all the talent in the world, but don’t always show it in the octagon. MacDonald looked terrible in a split decision loss to Robbie Lawler in November, then rebounded with a dominant unanimous finish against Demian Maia in late February. Woodley is coming off a win over Carlos Condit and is starting to show major knockout power combined with elite wrestling.
That could prove to be a handful for MacDonald, but if there’s one thing you can count on with MacDonald is that he’s done his homework. He is a dynamic striker who should be able to keep Woodley on his toes and wary of takedown attempts. MacDonald’s reach could be a big factor too. If he’s able to keep Woodley on the outside, he’ll control the tempo of the fight and has a better chance at getting his opponent into deep water in the later rounds. That’s where he’ll look to finish it.
Woodley’s a great talent and certainly has the ability to end this fight with one punch, but this is MacDonald’s big shot. He was supposed to be at the top of this division a long time ago, so expect him to make the most of it now with the Vancouver crowd on his side.