UFC contender Rory MacDonald will never, ever fight his Tri-Star Gym teammate, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Except when he would.
MacDonald, who will meet Jake Ellenberger in a main-card bout at UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle on July 27, was asked the "will you or won't you?" question on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour about potentially meeting St-Pierre.
In the course of his response, MacDonald said he wouldn't fight St-Pierre, since they were friends. Then he abruptly changed course.
"We're not fighting," MacDonald said. "Me and Georges are friends, we're training partners. We'll have our own arrangements and figure it all out when the time comes. It's not going to come to us fighting. Friends, teammates, you know? We're here to help each other."
When asked to clarify his "arrangements" comment, MacDonald reiterated his ultimate goal in the sport is to become a champion.
"We'll just figure it out," MacDonald said. "I'm not there yet. I'm more focused on Jake than anything, I'm taking it one step at a time. I'm sure at one point I'll be champ in this division, that is my goal. I'm not just here to be No. 3 guy or No. 4 or whatever I'm ranked. Eventually I'll get there."
Such talk, of course, is premature, as first he has to get past Ellenberger, winner of eight of his past nine fights. This will be MacDonald's first bout since he dismantled B.J. Penn in December. The British Columbia native had to pull out of his planned March rematch with Carlos Condit due to a neck injury.
"I'm just going to try to train similar to the fight against BJ," MacDonald said. "I think I was too anxious when it was announced I was going to fight Carlos again. I'm just going to try to relax a little bit and just train smart, try not to be a big musclehead again, not try to be a caveman. Sometimes I overtrain and I just have to settle down I guess sometimes."
The 23-year old MacDonald compared the changes in his body in recent years to going through puberty.
"I just I put a lot of pressure on myself and I don't know, what it's about. I've been training for so long and I have a certain, I'm still learning my body, I'm growing," he said. "I feel like I'm getting bigger, my body's always changing and stuff now, it's like I'm going through puberty or something. Man, that was stupid to say. I feel like, my recovery's always different this year from last year, you know what I mean?"
Meanwhile, Ellenberger started a fire in a recent online interview The MMA Digest, implying that MacDonald is overhyped due to his connection with Tri-Star and doesn't belong in the Top 10 at welterweight.
Appraised of Ellenberger's comments, MacDonald said his opponent's words might mask a lack of confidence. "When I hear stuff like that I just feel like he's trying to build himself up and his confidence," MacDonald said. "Self-conscious people have to somertimes build themselves up to give themselves confidence. Maybe he's right, he has some points that I haven't really fought anyone in the top 10, but, I mean, you gotta to get there somehow. I've been winning, and I have fight top 10 guys eventually and he's one of them. I guess he'll be my breakthrough fight."
As for whether Ellenberger might be looking past the fight, MacDonald said "Maybe he is, maybe he's talking bulls---. I don't know, I never really listen to his interviews, but I don't really care, really. At the end of the day it's just going to be a fight, I really don't have any beef with him, I really don't know the guy, I like watching his fights. We're professional fighters and we signed a contract to fight."
For his part, MacDonald (14-1) insists he focuses more on bettering himself than his opponents' strengths and weaknesses.
"I'll be prepared for everything," he said. "He's obviously a pretty well-rounded guy, heavy handed, he's probably the most heavy-handed guy I've ever fought, so that would be a big thing to watch for I guess. I'm just worried about myself, I just like to think Rory, [you have to] get yourself to the best of your abilities in the jiu-jitsu area, boxing, kickboxing, everything, got to be able to put everything together perfectly. I don't think this guy's a black belt in jiu-jitsu, I'm not so much into that, I just like to be like, I gotta get to where I gotta be, and everything else will figure itself out in the cage. That's the way I look at it.
Should MacDonald get past Ellenberger, he wouldn't mind getting another crack at Condit, who handed MacDonald his only career defeat back at UFC 115. But whatever comes his way, MacDonald is just happy to be finally in the mix with the welterweight elite.
"If everyone in the top five fought each other, I'm sure there would be winners on different days, you know what I mean?" MacDonald asked. "No one would win 100 percent of the time, it's a very close division and everyone is super challenging. I have a lot of respect for all of the guys out there. I'm excited to finally be fighting these guys. It's a long road to get here and I'm finally getting to fight some of the best days in the world."