(Rory MacDonald is from Kelowna, 250 miles from Vancouver, but it’s close enough for the Canadian fans to favor him.)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The youngest fighter in the UFC received one of the loudest ovations Friday during weigh-ins for UFC 115 at General Motors Place. Twenty-year-old Rory MacDonald – the closest thing to a Vancouver local on the card – received an ovation eclipsed only by former champions Chuck Liddell, Rich Franklin and Pride legend Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic.
“It’s a dream come true to fight in the UFC,” MacDonald said. “I used to watch the Canucks play in this arena when I was a little boy.”
All fighters made weight Friday, though middleweight Mario Miranda and lightweight opponents Mac Danzig and Matt Wiman failed to make weight on their first attempts. All weighed in behind the towel. Miranda, who will face popular Canadian David Loiseau, dropped a full pound when he dropped his shorts to make 186, the limit for a non-title bout. Wiman and Danzig each dropped trou to make 156.
While Loiseau and countryman Claude Patrick received loud cheers, MacDonald received a surprisingly boisterous greeting before his face-off with former WEC champion Carlos Condit. Fighting out of Kelowna – about 250 miles northeast of Vancouver — MacDonald is virtually unknown to most UFC fans, but a Canadian media blitz has made his name in Vancouver.
“I am excited about that fight,” UFC president Dana White said. “If (MacDonald) wins Saturday, it is a huge win for him.”
MacDonald began campaigning to be on the Vancouver card following his UFC debut, a win over Mike Guymon at Ultimate Fight Night 20 in January. Two weeks later, he received an email from the UFC.
“As soon as I saw it might be against Carlos, I said yes,” the welterweight said. “I am a big fan of Carlos. I have tremendous respect for him.”
Chael Sonnen’s metamorphosis from heel to hero continued Friday as the No. 1 middleweight contender was featured in the UFC Fight Club Q&A. Three years removed from the wilderness of Bodog and free agency, he has his own highlight package and name in lights.
The Fight Club format allowed fans to ask Sonnen questions from a microphone and he answered from the stage. After the weigh-ins ended, fans were still buzzing about Sonnen’s quick wit and off-the-cuff comedy that had the arena roaring with laughter.
Some gems from the Q&A:
When a UFC fan expressed a desire for Anderson Silva to beat Sonnen (a sentiment drawing boos from the crowd), Sonnen replied: “There’s the thing I never thought I’d see: Anderson Silva’s fan. I must be on ground zero in the fifth dimension.”
On his gameplan for Silva: “If Chael Sonnen cannot get the fight to the floor, Chael Sonnen will get his ass kicked. There is no plan B. He doesn’t have one either.”
After taking a swig of what appeared to be cola and spewing some back onto the stage: “What is this? Moonshine? I’m going to put down this Molotov cocktail over here. (It was) obviously from an Anderson Silva fan.”
On Silva’s attitude: “Anderson is a fraud. He bows in the ring. He doesn’t come from a bowing culture. If you bow in Brazil, they hit you over the head and take your wallet.”