- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Maybe. But MacDonald’s got experience, too. Living independently from the age of 16 tends to make you grow up pretty quick.
In 2005, the same year MacDonald started fighting professionally, his father decided to move out of Kelowna, the small town in British Columbia they had lived in for five years.
That was fine for MacDonald, as long as his father knew he wasn’t going with him. He had found a home in the local Toshido Fighting Arts Academy -- one he wasn’t ready to leave.
“My dad had to move away and I stayed to train and live on my own,” MacDonald told ESPN.com. “It wasn’t a hard decision. To me, it was common sense. I was going to stay and train and my dad understood that.
“I knew it would be a lot with finishing high school, trying to train as much as I could and taking care of myself, but that’s what you got to do. It was definitely tough, but I did it.”
For those unfamiliar with the Canadian prospect, MacDonald (11-1) is considered a “new breed” of martial artist. That is, he began training all disciplines at the same time. He’s not a wrestler or a boxer. He’s an MMA fighter.
The development he’s shown this early is remarkable, and it’s only been accelerated by his move to train under Firas Zahabi at Tristar Gym in Montreal last year.
When Pyle was 22, he was, admittedly, training out of a shed in his parents’ backyard, mimicking moves he watched on the screen of his 14’’ television. No shame in that, but it’s far from the looks MacDonald is getting.
“Georges [St. Pierre] and I train everyday. We’re main sparring partners,” MacDonald said. “We’re elite welterweights. What more could you ask for? We’re great partners for each other. I help him the way he helps me.”
Fact remains, Pyle (21-7-1) will walk into the cage Saturday with more than twice as many professional rounds under his belt than MacDonald.
But MacDonald’s not broke on mental advantages in this fight. He’ll carry with him the confidence that everything in his life thus far has led him to believe he was born to do this -- and he’s made all the necessary sacrifices to pursue it.
He’s also spent the last six years beating up older men with more fights.
“Of course, experience is key in fighting. But it isn’t everything,” MacDonald said. “I have youth. I have athleticism. I have technique. It’s about who comes out that night and fights the best. I believe I’m the better fighter.
“I’ve just known from the beginning I had a gift for this.”