We've seen Ellenberger lay into "Ares" with an onslaught of un-returned insults. And while many fighters in MacDonald's position would have lashed out with their own verbal vengeance, the young TriStar-trained product has done quite the opposite.
While MacDonald has looked every bit of the cold, calculating assassin who he's portrayed as more with each passing bout, different views can be taken from the intent of Ellenberger's smack talk. On one hand, he could obviously be using the verbiage to get inside his opponent's head, something he thinks he has accomplished.
He described the situation at the UFC on Fox 8 Media Day from Seattle (via MMA Fighting):
"I looked at him and his eyes went straight to the ground. I think people take things too seriously. I've done that a lot of my career. I've been in the military, a lot of my life is so strictly in training. You might as well enjoy it. We're still going to fight. Whether I say something or not, we're still going to fight. We're in the entertainment business. I think Chael [Sonnen] said it best, we're in the entertainment business. And Rory doesn't say much, he's not the most outgoing guy, but if anything, it's more intriguing for the fans and I had fun doing it."
"The Juggernaut" is seemingly sending mixed signals today. On one hand, he believes that he holds a psychological advantage over his opponent, but also wants to play the trash talk off as an attempt at making a few lighthearted jokes.
He may be taking a page out of his friend Chael Sonnen's book and looking to make a name for himself with his fighting skills and his mouth.
In this case, the strategy has worked in terms of generating interest for the high-profile 170-pound bout, but did it really ever need that kind of publicity in the first case? Ellenberger stating that the bout isn't a "Tears For Fears lookalike contest," and advising MacDonald to start testing out his favorite flavors of baby food, may indeed hype the bout from a media perspective.
However, they seem like convoluted and forced attempts at gaining a psychological edge to me.
The hard-hitting bout features two of the top five Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight contenders, so even though a bit of trash talk may fuel the pre-fight fire, it's hardly necessary. Even Ellenberger acknowledges the fight itself is the core issue here, regardless of what he says or what MacDonald doesn't say.
It's tough to decipher what effect Ellenberger's words will truly have on the bout, as they may be his own insecurities coming forth, or he could actually be inside MacDonald's cranium. I guess that in a bout of this magnitude, it is in a fighter's best interest to get any perceived edge he can.
Is that what Ellenberger has actually accomplished? He could definitely end up paying for his so-called attempt at "entertainment."
I suppose we'll find out whether his intent actually ends up mattering when the dust settles in Seattle, Wash., this Saturday night.