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Rory MacDonald on His Training Injury: 'I Just Knew That I Was Screwed'

Rory MacDonald
Rory MacDonald

Rory MacDonald knew right away that he was in trouble.

In training Saturday for the biggest fight of his UFC career, against B.J. Penn at UFC 152 in Toronto, the 23-year-old MacDonald took an errant elbow over his right eye and the blood started to flow.

"You know when you have a gut feeling when something happens?" MacDonald asked's Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I felt it and then I kind of knew. I didn't move and I hit him or whatever, and then I just kind of stopped and then I watched the blood just kind of like spurt out sporadically. And then, I know when that happens that it's deep. It was spraying. So I just kind of sat there, I knew, I just knew that I was screwed."

A trip to the hospital confirmed what the British Columbia native, who trains at Montreal's Tri Star Gym, knew deep down: There was no way he'd able to fight the former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion on Sept. 22. MacDonald detailed that the cut went down to the bone and required three layers of stitching (38 stitches total) to close the wound. It will be another 4-6 weeks before MacDonald is even able to resume training.

"The way this cut is, it's a deep cut like I explained," he said. "But, you know, if I got re-injured and re-injured and re-injured if I went in too early that could be a problem later on down in my career. So it could re-open in fights, re-open in training, It could be an issue I don't want it to be around. My coaches and my management, we all got on the phone and we talked. They calmed me down and gave me the points, the best option was to wait."

The next question from here is whether the enigmatic Penn will be willing to wait for MacDonald and stick with the fight, or whether Penn will request to stick with the Sept. 22 date and fight a different opponent. Penn, for his part, suggested they move the bout to the Oct. 13 event in Rio de Janeiro. But MacDonald said given the nature of the cut, it wouldn't be possible.

"What is that, like two weeks, three weeks later [than UFC 152]?" MacDonald asked. "Does that maybe give me two weeks of training? What I don't get about him is how he can come off telling me what's fair and what's not when he doesn't know the situation. He wasn't there, he didn't talk to my doctors, he didn't see it, so he makes this statement online to get all his followers excited. And really he doesn't know the situation here, he should keep it professional and go through my manager and know what I have to say behind closed doors. Basically the earliest I can fight is November."

Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk, for one, has lobbied for the spot against Penn. MacDonald sounded annoyed at the suggestion.

"There's so many other fights in UFC," he said. "Fight who you want to fight, it's up to BJ at this point. But, I'm ready to fight. If he wants to hold off a couple months or whatever I'll be there, I'll be more than willing to make this happen. I'm still going to fight someone at the end of the day."

In the meantime, MacDonald admits he's been trying to keep from getting depressed since the incident happened. MacDonald said he's gotten texts from training partner Georges St. Pierre, who knows what it's like to have a big fight fall out due to training injuries. But for now, MacDonald is just keeping to himself.

"I'm getting less and less upset every day," he said. "I haven't been seeing anyone or anything. This is a pretty big blow to me, this was probably the most motivated I've ever been for a fight. I'd wake up in the morning and I'd just be ecstatic to go to the gym. I was just on fire, you know? I just felt perfect mentally and physically. And then all of a sudden, you can never have a perfect training camp in this sport, and that goes and happens and that knocks me off my high horse, and was a real stab to the heart, you know?"

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