After just five months and two fights in the UFC, Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald has landed himself his first marquee fight: a bout with former UFC champion Rich Franklin.
MacDonald, understandably, has increased his training regimen significantly. In addition to his standard work at Mark Pavelich’s Pro Camp and Gracie Barra Calgary, MacDonald has begun training with one of the best teams in MMA: Greg Jackson’s Fight Team, the home of Joey Villasenor, Nathan Marquardt, Diego Sanchez, and Keith Jardine.
TRAINING WITH GREG JACKSON
During MacDonald’s previous fights with the UFC, he had the opportunity to meet Jackson and was already beginning to consider training with him. Once he was notified that the fight with Franklin would take place, MacDonald knew that training with Jackson was the next step in his career.
“Unfortunately, living where we do, in Alberta, we don’t have the quality and the number of training partners as I have down here at Greg Jackson’s. So I came down here to Greg Jackson’s, to broaden my horizons, learn some new skills, and train with some great athletes.”
MacDonald jumped back and forth between training with Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and training in his home state Alberta with Pro Camp and Gracie Barra. At the time of the interview, he was back down for a second stint with Jackson, to spend his last ten days training in high elevation.
NOT A STEPPING STONE
The bout with Franklin is, arguably, MacDonald’s first evidence that the UFC is taking notice in him. Originally, it might have been thought that he was brought in to showcase two popular former Ultimate Fighter contestants: Ed Herman and Chris Leben. However, if that was the case, neither fight turned out as expected.
Herman lasted only 2 minutes and 43 seconds with MacDonald before succumbing to a triangle choke, and Leben was left unconscious on the mat in a fight that left MacDonald being called the “TUF Killer.”
MacDonald knows that the UFC will no longer view him as enhancement for anyone else.
“I’d like to think that stereotype has already been broken down. After two wins over UFC veterans that the UFC sees Rich Franklin as a step up for me and a good match up,” said MacDonald.
FIGHTING THE FORMER CHAMPION
Franklin is making his return to the octagon after a brutal loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 64 last October. Franklin suffered a broken nose in that fight which required surgery to straighten out his septum. Fully recovered from the operation, Franklin is looking to get back on the winning track with this fight in his home state against MacDonald.
“A lot of people don’t expect me to win this fight, but I have intentions of doing the same thing I have done in the last two,” said MacDonald. “It’s no big secret what the game plans are going into the fight. Rich is going to want to try to keep it standing and knock me out, and my intentions are to, hopefully, submit him. But it’s just who has the ability to put their game plan in place on the night is going to come away with the victory.”
His submission wins over Herman and Leben put his career on the ascent. At UFC 68, MacDonald can very well position himself as the number one contender for the middleweight title with a victory over Rich Franklin. Is he next in line for Anderson Silva’s middleweight title? MacDonald said there are no talks and that is not something on his mind. For now, he’ll leave it up to the UFC to decide who is next for him.
"My sole focus right now is March 3rd and getting in there and putting on an exciting fight for the fans, and come away with another victory. I haven’t look past what a victory over Rich Franklin will hold for me."