Rory MacDonald aspires to return to the highest peak of mixed martial arts, the former UFC star told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview. He plans on proving this ambition with convincing performances in the Professional Fighters League.
The Canadian has taken some time off since his last contract with Bellator expired to refocus on his career and plan the best route possible to achieve his "destiny of being the best mixed martial artist in the world."
During the hiatus, Rory MacDonald has not only understood his career better, but he also found answers to his prayers. He feels "unstoppable" now that he has "teamed up with God" and knows where he has to be and what he has to do.
Leaving his old training camp in Canada to join Sanford MMA in Florida was one of the first signs he was on the right track. He "just felt like he had to pick up and move." And that's what he did.
"I have a feeling that this will be my home for my training camps going forward. I really like the coaching staff here. I really like the environment that they have in Sanford MMA." Rory MacDonald said.
The mixed martial arts gym is notable for developing UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Although the "Nigerian Nightmare" left in 2020, Sanford MMA still has Michael Chandler, Derek Brunson, Vicente Luque, and Gilbert Burns as some distinguished names attached to their grid.
Rory MacDonald can feel the presence of top-notch fighters in the gym's environment.
"Like all the other fighters, I feel it's high-level competition for me to compete, and learn, and train with other fighters that are at such a high level. I feel like they're not egotistical people. It's a good vibe. Everyone's trying to learn and work together and achieve their goals. So, I feel like that's a great place for me to be in because I feel like I fit that kind of model as well. And, yeah, I'm just super excited. I think great things are ahead." said MacDonald.
Rory MacDonald still has "a ladder to climb" before reaching Usman and Burns
Rory MacDonald's final goal is to be the best in the world, which implies that he would have to defeat the top talents first. But for now, just sharing the space and taking every opportunity to learn and improve is enough for him.
For instance, the possibility of training with Gilbert Burns, one of the most successful welterweights in the world, excites Rory MacDonald. However, they still have not trained together:
"I managed to catch the tail end of his training camp. I didn't get to train with him. But I'm sure when he gets back from training, I'll be able to train with him," said Rory MacDonald. "I'm looking forward to it. He's a total beast."
Rory MacDonald did not hide his intentions of reaching great heights when asked if he would like to compete against contenders like Kamaru Usman and Burns in the future.
He expects that reconquering his space in mixed martial arts by competing in the PFL will drive him to "fight at the pinnacle of the sport" again:
"As I said, that's something that I want to be. I want to get back to that pinnacle and be, you know, be at that top spot. So, of course, it interests me [to fight Burns and Usman], and I'm looking to do what I have to do to get back there. And when the time is right. I feel like I'll make it. I'll get there."
"But right now, I have to focus on the task at hand. I have to climb that ladder again. I got a lot of fights coming in the next two years with the PFL. And I got to go out there and make a statement, make a name for myself again," added Rory MacDonald.