Former UFC title challenger and Bellator MMA champion Rory MacDonald freely admits that, during his title reign in the latter promotion, he allowed himself to get a little too complacent. With that mind, now that he’s fighting under the PFL banner, with a fight against Gleison Tibau at PFL 5 just ahead, he’s made some adjustments in terms of mindset and motivation.
“So what happened was, I won the title against [Douglas] Lima, I’d just gotten married, had kids, so a lot of changes in my life,” he explained during this week’s PFL 5 media day. “Financially I was doing a lot better. And I started to enjoy the spoils of success, [and let it] get to me, and take my focus off my goals in the sport.”
“Enjoying home time was an amazing thing. Having a family now, from before, just like being on my own and being in the gym all day, it was nice to be at home and be in that comfort zone of family time. I abused that,” he continued. “I didn’t balance it out with the hard work, the sacrifice it takes to be at the top level of this sport.”
It’s a situation MacDonald said went on for a fairly long time. “My performances dipped,” he admitted. COVID-19 allowed him to face the issues were coming up, he added. “Refocus, re-motivated, setting goals… …I want to be the number one welterweight in the world. I believe that’s going to take dominant performances. They need to be impressive, I need to show the best version of myself every time I get into the cage.”
For years, Canada’s “Red King” has been considered the heir apparent to Georges St-Pierre. It’s a label that was plastered on MacDonald’s name as soon as he got off and running in the UFC, but it’s not a comparison he ever wanted to make himself.
“I never did, to be honest. It was always something that people just put out there in the media and always asked me,” MacDonald said. “I never set out to be Georges or anything like that. That’s just setting yourself up for failure or trying to mirror someone’s accomplishments.”
“I have my own road, I have my own style, and my own experience during this walk in this road of martial arts,” he continued. “I’ve been able to have the opportunity to train alongside Georges and learn a ton from him, but I would never compare myself or try to live up to what he accomplished. I’m just trying to accomplish my goals and have my own experience in this sport.”
Watch the full PFL 5 media day press scrum with Rory MacDonald above. The event takes place this Thursday, June 17 in Atlantic City, NJ. The card airs live on ESPN+ and ESPN 2 in the U.S., and TSN in Canada.