Then on Dec. 8, MacDonald put on arguably his most impressive performance with a dominating win over BJ Penn. At that point, his craving turned into obsession. There was no suspense; it was clear that MacDonald had won all three rounds en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
The only question remaining was whether he would request a rematch with Condit during a televised postfight interview. MacDonald didn’t let the suspense linger; after extending his win streak to four, he looked right into the TV camera and demanded a rematch.
Within a week, UFC officials began speaking to MacDonald and Condit about a second meeting -- on March 16 in Montreal. Each fighter has accepted the offer.
Overwhelming a mixed martial arts legend such as Penn can serve to bolster any fighter’s confidence.
Besides, MacDonald has improved in every aspect of his game since that June 12, 2010, third-round knockout loss to Condit at UFC 115.
Now MacDonald gets his wish. He’s a confident young man who is certain this time around the outcome will be very different.
But there is a matter that MacDonald and his handlers better take into account before stepping back in the cage with Condit -- he too is a much improved fighter since June 2010. And he’s not Penn: Condit won’t be physically overmatched.
“I’m a different fighter,” Condit told ESPN.com recently. “I’m a bigger, more physically imposing fighter. I’m in my prime right now. And I can’t say the same for BJ.”
Condit is aware of the beating MacDonald put on Penn, a natural 155-pound fighter. But he isn’t taking away from MacDonald. The fast-rising 170-pound contender has all the tools to defeat any of today’s top welterweights. And it must also be noted that MacDonald gave Condit all he could handle during their initial showdown.
But the confidence MacDonald has exhibited during his current win streak is countered by a hunger that Condit has not had displayed before previous fights.
“I’ve just come off a loss, the biggest fight of my career,” said Condit, the former UFC interim welterweight and WEC titleholder who will bring a record of 28-6 into the Octagon against MacDonald. “I’m fired up. I’m looking to come back with a vengeance.”
A shopworn, undersized BJ Penn was never going to test Rory MacDonald.
Condit has come to grips with his Nov. 17 unanimous decision loss to MacDonald’s training partner -- current welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre -- at UFC 154 in Montreal. But he isn’t hanging his head. Instead, Condit has concluded that the fight was a blessing.
“I proved that I can compete with the best in the world,” Condit said. “I almost had the fight in the bag. With some adjustments and a few tweaks in my game, I’m going to be able to capitalize on those moments that I had in the last fight.
“I think I did a pretty good job. I did the best that I could in preparing for Georges, knowing what I knew. Some things worked and some things didn’t; now we have to go back and refine. After a test like that, I have a lot of information to come back a much better fighter.”
Condit isn’t willing to share any information he garnered from the fight with St-Pierre, but he did say that fighting MacDonald again in Canada is a nonissue.
Their first bout took place in Vancouver, not far from MacDonald’s native town of Quesnel, British Columbia. MacDonald currently trains fulltime at TriStar Gym in Montreal, where he has lived the past two years.
What matters most to Condit is timing. He wants another crack at becoming the UFC’s lineal welterweight champion and a victory over MacDonald (14-1) will get him back in the title conversation. It also will give him a chance to exact his own form of payback on MacDonald.
“I’m also fired up because I was called out on national television [by MacDonald],” Condit said. “I gave him the worst beating of his life. I beat the snot out of him.
“He can come up with all the excuses that he wants; he’s got to fight me again.
“Rory has a lot of hype behind him; people are talking about him. A win over him -- another win over him -- will put me right back in the [welterweight title] mix.”