Rory MacDonald has a lot on his plate entering his UFC Fight Night 89 matchup with rising knockout star Stephen Thompson this Saturday (June 18, 2016) in Ottawa, Quebec, Canada.
First off, MacDonald needs to rebound in fashion after losing a title fight opposite current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler back at UFC 189 last July. Anything except a dominant victory over Thompson will unfortunately set "Red King" back in a division that waits for no man.
Secondly, he'll be competing in front of his home country of Canada in hopes of eventually taking over where former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre left off. That's a lot of pressure for a 26-year-old nearing his physical prime.
But what makes MacDonald's main event tilt with "Wonderboy" even more important is the fact that the former title challenger will be a free agent after the fight. That means he'll have to impress if he wants to draw the best offers around.
Oddly enough, one UFC executive went as far as advising MacDonald to test the free agent market when the time comes.
"I think we're all about making sure we've got as many great MMA Junkie. "But in the end, it's Rory's decision, and we encourage him to go into the open market. That's something he's certainly entitled to do, and we would encourage him to do so."in every part of the world because clearly he's a great fighter, he's a great competitor, he's a great representative of our sport," said Tom Wright, Executive VP and General Manager for UFC Operations in Canada, in a recent interview with
As you can see, the stakes are high for MacDonald. If he can knock off one of the quickest rising names in the sport today at UFC Fight Night 89, he'll possess massive leverage in striking a long-term deal with UFC. If he doesn't, things may not go his way during negotiations.
"In the end we're just looking forward to sitting down with him after and having a good conversation," added Wright. "He wants to put on a big performance and then fight for the UFC championship belt. So, we'll wait and see what happens. But what Rory does is up to him, and we'll support whatever he decides."