Rory MacDonald isn't the first fighter to see a promised UFC title shot evaporate on the whims of the company, and he certainly won't be the last. Rather, he's simply the latest. After announcing last October that MacDonald would fight the winner of UFC 181's rematch between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, the UFC recently reneged on its promise, instead electing to stage a trilogy fight between the only two men who have fought for the welterweight title since Georges St-Pierre's retirement in late-2013 -- a decision which sent MacDonald back to square one without a dance partner.
"I was a little bit heartbroken," MacDonald admitted on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "But it's okay. Even when I first heard the news that I was promised I was going to get the next title shot, I was skeptical. You can't always believe what you hear. Things change so often in this sport, you'd be a fool if you believed everything that came out. So I'm not surprised that it happened. But I was pretty sad about it."
Rather than compete for gold, MacDonald has been tasked with fighting welterweight's bogey man, Hector Lombard, on April 25 at UFC 186. The bout has yet to be finalized, but MacDonald said he accepted the fight because he didn't want to sit out and wait for Lawler-Hendricks 3 to figure itself out... and besides, he wasn't offered the chance to do so anyway.
"Honestly I didn't even (think about the possibility of a trilogy fight)," MacDonald said. "I thought Robbie won the fight pretty clearly in my eyes. I didn't see why they would want a third fight, at all. I figured, you know, they would definitely want me to fight Robbie after that fight. So it didn't work out. It didn't work out like I thought it would."
MacDonald has handled the UFC's public slight as best he could, though after racking up three consecutive wins over top opposition in 2014, getting promised a title shot in his native Canada during a lavish announcement ceremony, and even flying out to conduct pre-fight interviews in Las Vegas at UFC 181, MacDonald can't help but come away feeling disenchanted by the experience.
"I didn't get [a reason]," MacDonald said. "They just said ‘you're not getting it.' That's it. So it was a bit of a waste of my time going [to Las Vegas], wasn't it?"
"There's definitely some issues (with the way the UFC awards title shots)," he added, "But I don't have the answers for how it could change, or whatever. But yeah, I don't agree with a lot of the things that are done. But, I mean, I'm not in their shoes either, right? So it's hard for me to say."
MacDonald said that so far no higher-ups within the UFC have told him that a win over Lombard would guarantee an elusive title shot, and really, he "wouldn't believe them anyway if they did."
At 25 years old, MacDonald has been contending in the UFC's 170-pound shark tank for nearly half a decade now, a majority of which was spent as St-Pierre's training partner and TriStar understudy. Once St-Pierre retired, the path was supposed to be clear for MacDonald to finally earn his first shot at the title. But at least in the interim, MacDonald admitted that the experience of the past few months has somewhat soured him on the idea.
"A little bit, you know? It makes me a little bit bitter about the situation, and probably makes me think about it in a little bit of a negative light. But you know, I'm a little bit pissed off and that's how I'm dealing with it," MacDonald said.
"I don't know. Just keep watching. I have nothing to say, I don't know what to say. I just, you know, I'm just going to keep fighting. Whatever. If there's a belt there afterwards or there's not, I'm still going to go out there and f**k someone up."