Rory MacDonald has mixed it up with some of the most cherished mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, and he remembers bouts with Nate Diaz and Demian Maia fondly.
MacDonald (22-6) ranked his six greatest rivals in an interview with SB Nation’s Combat Culture ahead of his PFL 5 headliner vs. Gleison Tibau at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., on Thurs., June 17, 2021.
“My fight with Nate Diaz [at UFC 129] was very memorable,” MacDonald recalled. “I got to fight in front of 55,000 people in Toronto. That was an amazing experience. It seemed like there was an ocean of people around me with the lights off. It was incredible to walk out to that environment.”
MacDonald took a unanimous decision over Diaz at UFC 129: “St-Pierre vs. Shields” in April 2011. Diaz most recently competed against Leon Edwards at UFC 263. Also on that card was revered Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Demian Maia, who fought Belal Muhammad. MacDonald won the fight vs. Maia via unanimous decision at UFC 170: “Rousey vs. McMann” in 2014.
“I took this fight literally as soon as I finished my fight with Robbie Lawler, the first one. I was really disappointed that I lost. I had some momentum in my career at that point but that loss would have been a setback. I said, ‘Let’s get another fight right away.’ They [UFC] said, ‘You can fight Demian Maia in a couple of months.’ I went ahead and did that,” MacDonald said. “I thought I fought really hard. It was an action-packed fight. He was trying to take me down. He took me down in the first round and I got back up. After that, I was able to stop like 20 or more takedowns of his. I kept a really high pace of punching and kicking.
“That one was pretty cool,” MacDonald continued. “He’s accomplished a lot. He’s an interesting guy to fight because he’s such a dangerous grappler when he does wrap you up. You have to be really careful because he’s finished so many good guys,” he added. “The fact that he even had me in full mount and I was able to survive and come out with the victory is a big accomplishment for me.”
Watch the video above to see how MacDonald ranks his six most memorable rivalries.
PFL 5 takes place at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., on Thurs., June 17, 2021. The ESPN+ card is headlined by Rory MacDonald vs. Gleison Tibau. It also boasts appearances by Ray Cooper III, Cezar Ferreira, Antonio Carlos Jr., Vinny Magalhaes, Curtis Millender, Tom Lawlor and Alexey Kunchenko.
You can find more exclusive interviews right here.