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Rory MacDonald on fighting hero BJ Penn: ‘He wouldn’t go down’

“Red King” looked up to “The Prodigy” growing up, so you can imagine his excitement when they locked horns in UFC.

Rory MacDonald’s latest trek might conclude with a $1 million payday, but his mixed martial arts (MMA) journey has also intersected with legacy fights like B.J. Penn.

MacDonald (22-7-1) will headline PFL 7 opposite Ray Cooper III in the semifinals of the Professional Fighters League (PFL) $1 million Welterweight playoffs. The event takes place at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., streaming via ESPN2.

Prior to the fight, MacDonald reflected on his clash with Penn on Dec. 8, 2012, under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner.

“B.J. was one of the fighters I really looked up to as a kid and growing up watching MMA,” MacDonald told SB Nation’s Combat Culture. “Learning from him and a lot of guys from that generation. When I got the opportunity to fight him, I was really excited. We had actually been scheduled to fight and I got a really bad cut in training so we had to postpone the fight. It still ended up working out and it was a great fight. I was able to pretty much be on offense the entire fight. He was one tough guy. He wouldn’t go down.”

Despite his admiration for Penn, MacDonald was locked in.

“I had a really good warm-up and I was solid mentally. I wanted to go in there and get in a hard fight. I was pretty focused on just taking out whoever stood in front of me.”

MacDonald won the fight against Penn via a one-sided unanimous decision with scorecards reading 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 for the Canadian. The UFC on FOX card was headlined by Ben Henderson successfully defending his UFC Lightweight championship against Nate Diaz, plus Alexander Gustafsson beating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

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