Fight Night 89: MacDonald an Underdog vs Thompson

How about that UFC Fight Night 89 though, eh? Shut up, we’re allowed to say eh, we are Canadian after all.

And this event is in Ottawa, at a pretty weird looking venue, built into the bleachers of the CFL’s (awfully named) Ottawa REDBLACKS (their styling/emphasis, not ours). We even tried to get tickets to go take in the event firsthand, but they were kinda expensive. This event has slipped under the radar, which makes sense. UFC 199 happened, Conor vs Nate 2 became a thing officially, Brock Lesnar is back and taking on Mark Hunt, there was even some thing about ethics in journalism surrounding the UFC.

It was to our surprise then, that about a week ago we were looking to put some bets down and we noticed something that seemed a bit off. Rory MacDonald was listed as the (slight) underdog in the main event opposite Stephen Thompson. Surely it was just one betting site that had perhaps misjudged. Nope. The lines have moved a bit since then, but Thompson still remains favoured. Before we continue, here’s a brief PSA:

Gambling. It’s an awful addiction that can bankrupt a person not just financially, but morally as well. When gambling isn’t fun, you need to get some help. Don’t be afraid to admit you have a problem. 

Try betting on darts, it’s impossible when that drunk.

Anyway, back to the fight. Does this not make sense to anyone else, or is it just us? Rory “Man of Many Nicknames” MacDonald, the guy who has only lost 3 razor thin fights, is an underdog.

Even with the losses, there hasn’t been a point when MacDonald has looked outclassed at any facet of MMA compared to his opponent. Now, that isn’t to say that Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been styled on by his competition. Not at all. It’s just that Thompson tends to stand and trade with opponents, using his excellent karate background to control the distance, landing punishing strikes in the process.

Forgive us for short-changing Thompson a tad here. He’s an excellent fighter, no doubt. But it just seems like he’s being vastly overvalued because of his win over Johny Hendricks. An amazing and shocking win no doubt, but one that perhaps tells us more of the deficiencies of “Big Rig” than it does demonstrate the elite calibre of Thompson.

Hendricks, for all his strengths, is a small, plodding power puncher on the feet. Rory MacDonald could not be further from this, as he hops in and out with his jab, constantly moving around and mixing in grappling near seamlessly with his striking.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that Thompson took out Robert Whittaker. Go watch the fight yourself, the UFC has it up on YouTube in promotion for the event. Whittaker manages to land a number of jabs on Thompson, but never truly makes the fight anything more than a kickboxing match. Of course, when you play into Thompson’s game, he is going to beat you. MacDonald, to his credit has demonstrated that he is a smart, diverse fighter.

We’re expecting this to be a close fight, but counting on MacDonald using his more well-rounded approach, combined with his experience in 5-round fights, to drag Thompson into deep water before finding a way to finish an exhausted “Wonderboy” at some point in the 4th or 5th round.

Bonus prediction? MacDonald, after attaining victory in his homeland, is once again paired up with Demian Maia, in a rematch to determine the next number one contender to the UFC’s welterweight title.

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