If there were one word that best describes Jason MacDonald’s current situation it would have to be “opportunity.” The 33-year-old middleweight from Red Deer, Alberta uses that word frequently when talking about his career in the UFC, and he certainly made the most of his latest one when he submitted Jason Lambert early in the second round at UFC 88 in Atlanta last Saturday.
Less than a month earlier MacDonald had suffered a hard-fought, third-round submission loss to Demian Maia at UFC 87 in Las Vegas, a fight in which he held his own with one of the best pure grapplers in the UFC. Although MacDonald emerged from that fight with an “L” in his ledger, he thrilled fans with his performance and more importantly, he emerged without injury.
Fellow Canadian Jason Day was originally scheduled to face Lambert at UFC 88, but when he had to withdraw from the bout due to injury, MacDonald was asked by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to step in on two week’s notice.
It was a good choice by “The Athlete,” who slapped on a fight-ending rear-naked choke for the win and a monetary bonus for submission of the night.
“I really feel like I dominated him from bell to bell; I never really felt like I was in trouble,” MacDonald said. “I put him on his back and hit him with some punches and kept him there the entire first round. Then in the second round, I was able to hit him with some more good, solid punches and put him on his back again, and that time I was able to capitalize and nail the submission.”
The only time MacDonald didn’t have the upper hand was in the final moments of the first round, when Lambert latched on a very tight-looking guillotine choke from the bottom. MacDonald monitored the video screen and waited as the seconds ticked by.
“I could see that there was only six seconds left so had there have been any more time left in the round I might have been in a little bit of trouble. Had there been any longer in the round I would have actually tried to get out of the guillotine as opposed to just sitting there and waiting it out,” he said. “It was fairly tight but I looked at the clock so I thought I’d throw some punches and try to finish the round in a positive manner rather than just sit there and let the judges think that he was choking me for six seconds.”
Despite the win, MacDonald admitted he didn’t stick to his game plan for the second time in a row.
“The game plan for Lambert was to keep the fight standing. I’ve been working a lot on my standup and trying to get comfortable using it out there,” said MacDonald. “I should have been using it against Demian Maia more and for whatever reason I didn’t. I was determined to go out there and start using my standup more. I wasn’t really looking to take him down but that’s the way the fight unfolded in front of me. I saw the opportunity and I took advantage of it.”
Though it’s likely too early to receive his next assignment from Zuffa, MacDonald has his eyes on a few candidates.
“Oh man, I would really like to see what happens with the Chris Leben and Michael Bisping fight -- I would love an opportunity to fight Bisping,” said MacDonald. “Nathan Marquardt had a big win last night and I don’t know what the future holds for him but he looked great. I don’t know if that will be a fight that may be in the cards for me in the future but we’ll have to see what transpires in the next few months. Basically, I want fights that will continue to move me forward in the division, so I’ll leave the matchmaking to Joe Silva and I’ll just go out there and try to put on exciting fights.”
Horodecki on Affliction signing
With the recent demise of the International Fight League, one of their most coveted fighters in London, Ontario’s Chris Horodecki (12-1) was suddenly on the market. The 20-year old lightweight’s management team at North County Fight Club fielded numerous offers from around the globe, but in the end it was Affliction who emerged in the forefront, signing Horodecki to a three-fight deal. His first bout will be against Dan Lauzon at Affliction 2 “Day of Reckoning” on Oct. 11 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Horodecki told Sherdog.com that he was at Affliction’s inaugural card in July to support teammate Mark Hominick and he loved the experience, which helped sway his decision to sign with them.
“It was a great show, they put on great fights -- big spectacle fights,” said Horodecki. “They’re going back to more of a spectacle type of theme -- the fighters, the entrances and how they come in. I like the ring and the format of the fights and I’m real excited. They put on a hell of a production from a live standpoint, and by the end of the show there’s a great energy in the air. A lot of shows I’ve been to they can’t really parallel and it was awesome, it was a great vibe.”
Horodecki has plenty positive to say about his Oct. 11 opponent Dan Lauzon.
In the meantime and in between his training sessions, Horodecki is up to his elbows in tiling grout, as he, Hominick and Sam Stout are working hard to prepare the upgraded version of their coach Shawn Tompkins’ London-based Team Tompkins Muay Thai and Submission Club –- a sprawling 11,000 square foot building to be christened the Adrenaline Training Centre.
“It’s real hectic right now. We’re opening our own continuation of Team Tompkins expanding in London, and mixing that up with our training in London and coming up twice a week to Toronto to train there,” he said. “Mixing that up with my conditioning coach Scott Payton -- it’s a hell of a week.”
Horodecki said that he’ll be spending the final five weeks prior to the Lauzon fight putting the final touches on in his camp with Coach Tompkins at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas.
After his Affliction appearance, Horodecki will be finishing off his final fight of his contract with Montreal’s TKO organization at TKO 36 on Dec. 5. His opponent has not yet been named, but TKO President Stephane Patry told Sherdog.com that possible contenders include the winner of the TKO 35 match between Jordan Mein and Martin Grandmont, or possibly Samuel Guillet.
Valimaki to Face Inhofer
King of the Cage Canada revealed last week that Edmonton’s Victor Valimaki (11-5) will be squaring off against short-lived “Ultimate Fighter” cast member Noah Inhofer (4-3) on Sept. 18 at the Northlands Agricom in Edmonton.
Valimaki told Sherdog.com that all he knows of Inhofer is what he was able to watch on the show, though he’s not too concerned about a lack of study material.
“I’ve heard that he’s better on the ground than he is standing up so I’m going to go out and play my game and try to tag him,” said Valimaki.
This fight is the last that Valimaki has under his contract with KOTC, and although he said he is definitely open to continuing to fight for them, he has had offers from several other organizations and is weighing his options.
Also on the card, heavyweight champion Tim Hague takes on UFC veteran Sherman Pendergarst and the KOTC middleweight crown will be awarded to the winner of the bout between Luke Harris and Dan Shenk.
TUF 8’s Jimmo to headline X-Fights
Haligonian Ryan Jimmo (6-1) has had a big few weeks. First the UFC announced that he will be a cast member of “The Ultimate Fighter 8” on Spike TV debuting Sept. 17, and now Jimmo will be headlining his first MMA event.
The new promotion X-Fights is hoping that the native New Brunswicker will be a huge draw as the main event on their inaugural card set to take place on Oct. 4 at the Moncton Coliseum.
Jimmo will be going into his bout with Jason Cecil (3-4) extremely confident.
“Jason Cecil has definitely been improving from what I’ve heard, but I think in this instance he’s in a little bit over his head and I’m going to make sure he feels that,” said Jimmo.
With seven MMA fights to his credit, this will be the first one inside of his home province, and Jimmo said that he’s terribly excited.
“I want to show off for them, and it makes me excited to show them how good I’ve gotten,” he said.
X-Fights Full Card
Ryan Jimmo vs. Jason Cecil
Dan Fowler vs. Scott Fraser
Eric Boudreau vs. Chris Currie
Jeremiah Bernard vs. Richard Arsenault
Jonny Roscoe vs. Iraj Hadin
Brian Mazerolle vs. Shawn Marchand
Chris Johnson vs. Justin Primmer
Jeff Lundberg vs. Ilya Woronowski
Dave Simms vs. Chris Doucet
Dana Dickeson vs. TBD
Hominick, Grant assigned new opponents for TKO 35
One month out from their Oct. 3 fights at TKO 35 in Montreal, both Mark Hominick and TJ Grant have been given new opponents.
Hominick (16-8) was initially set to face Tommy Lee, but after Lee sustained a broken hand in training Hominick will now be facing JC Pennington (18-5-1) for what should be a high-paced featherweight bout.
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia’s TJ Grant had been getting ready to square off against veteran Brian Gassaway in a welterweight match, but last Friday TKO President Stephane Patry called and offered Grant a bout against recent UFC veteran Forrest Petz after Gassaway withdrew for personal reasons.
Grant’s manager Scott MacLean told Sherdog.com that they didn’t hesitate to accept the bout.
Grant is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets and holds an amazing skill set that gives him an edge over virtually every opponent. He and his team have been looking for an opportunity to open the world’s eyes to his abilities for some time now, and with an opponent the caliber of Petz they think this fight may be it.
Grant most recently beat another UFC vet in Chad Reiner with a well-executed kimura in the third round of a very gritty match in June. Before that, Grant completely outclassed Mike Gates when he beat the tough wrestler on only a day’s notice.
TKO President Stephane Patry told Sherdog.com that the winner of Grant-Petz will get a shot at Jesse Bongfeldt’s welterweight belt at TKO 36 in December. Grant and Bongfeldt have previously met, with Grant ending up in the losing column for one of his two career losses.
TKO signs TV deal in Quebec
Montreal’s TKO Championship Fighting revealed that they have signed a television deal with the TQS television network, and began airing “TKO - Friday Night Knockouts” on Sept. 5 and every Friday night thereafter at 9 p.m.
The news was promising for TKO, as TQS is not primarily a sports channel, but more of a variety channel. Patry used the analogy that TQS is like Spike TV, except it isn’t on cable. Everybody that has a TV set in Quebec has TQS.
“Our first show was Friday night and the response was just amazing,” said Patry. “The sport was already very popular here in Quebec but this weekend I went out with my girlfriend and we couldn’t even walk in the streets with Steve Bosse, who was part of the show with Derek Gauthier and Martin Grandmont. Everybody was talking to them about the show.”
MFC signs Sexton, revamps weight classes
Edmonton’s MFC had a very busy summer with the addition of several high profile fighters. These moves continued into September as they announced the signing of lightweight Ariel Sexton (5-1) to a multi-fight deal.
The Vancouver, BC born Sexton was one of the fighters cast astray when the Alberta-based Hardcore Championship Fighting went under this year. Sexton has since been taping “El Gran Peleado” (The Great Fighter) MMA reality series in Costa Rica, where he trains as part of Team Ryan Gracie.
Several organizations were vying for Sexton’s services, but in a MFC press release Sexton said that the media coverage and exposure he’ll get from the MFC being on HDNet is what swayed him to them.
Sexton will be joining the MFC during a time of upheaval, as they have announced the creation of the MFC featherweight class, and that they will be retiring their heavyweight belt immediately. This reflects the abundance of lighter-weight fighters seeking opportunities to fight, as well as the dearth of heavyweight fighters available.
"There is such an impressive field of 145ers out there that we felt it was very important to add this weight class and this group of exciting fighters," said MFC president Mark Pavelich.
The MFC expects to announce the signing of several featherweights in the very near future and possibly have its first meaningful 145-pound bout by the time MFC 19 “Long Time Coming” rolls around on Nov. 28. There's every expectation that a 145-pound champion will be crowned by mid 2009.
Sept. 12: UCW 12 "Tap or Snap" - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sept. 13: XMMA 5- Compexe Sportif Claude-Robillard - Montreal, Quebec
Sept. 18: KOTC – Northlands Agricom Hall D – Edmonton, Alberta
Sept. 20: ECC 8 – Halifax Forum - Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sept. 20: RITC 31 - Lethbridge, Alberta
Sept. 26: MFC 18 "Famous" – River Cree Resort and Casino - Edmonton, Alberta
Sept. 27: IMMAC 5 – I.L.A. Sports Arena – Hagersville, Ontario
Oct. 3: TKO 35 – Bell Centre - Montreal, Quebec
Oct. 4: X-Fights - Moncton, New Brunswick
Oct. 4: Caged Rage 2 "Armageddon" - Element Night Club - Castlegar, BC
Oct. 11: XFC 6 - CN Centre, Prince George, BC
Oct. 18: KOTC - Frank Crane Arena - Nanaimo, BC
Oct. 25: Raw Combat - Stampede Corral - Calgary, Alberta
Nov. 22: Phoenix Fight Promotions 5 – Dartmouth Sportsplex - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Nov. 28: MFC 19 "Long Time Coming" – River Cree Resort and Casino - Edmonton, Alberta
Dec. 5: TKO 36 – Bell Centre - Montreal, Quebec