Wednesday, February 28, 2007

“The Athlete” Macdonald Faces Franklin Saturday

Red Deer’s Jason “The Athlete” Macdonald (19-7) will face off against former Ultimate Fighting Championship Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin (22-2), Saturday night, at the Nationwide Arena, in Columbus, Ohio, and many MMA fans around will eagerly be tuning in. Over the last few years, several Canadian fighters have gone onto to have tremendous success competing on the international MMA stage, case in point, UFC Welterweight Champ Georges St-Pierre, and Pride 185 pound contender Denis Kang. Macdonald is just the latest in a long string of Canadian fighters to help establish the Nation on the world MMA map, and a win over Franklin at UFC 68, would only further brighten the spotlight.

The road to the UFC for Macdonald was a long and windy one. The Albertan fighter started off his professional career going 9-0, and with wins during that time over such notable Canadian lightheavyweights like Bill Mahood, Yan Pellerin and Cam Brown, the future seemed quite bright for the former volleyball player. In a rematch bout with his future training partner Bill Mahood at the Maximum Fighting Championship 7 in May of 2003, Macdonald experienced losing for the first time, falling by TKO to the Prince George veteran. With back to back wins shortly after, including a dominant performance over Anthony Rea at the Absolute Fighting Championship in May of 2004, few in the Canadian MMA community questioned that Macdonald would certainly be one of ’s next great exports in the sport.

At the Extreme Fighting Challenge 3 in October of 2004, Macdonald lost by armbar submission to the tough veteran Matt Horwich. The Team Quest fighter was certainly one of the more talented fighters Macdonald had face up until that juncture, and with a record of 11-2, Macdonald still appeared to be on the verge of jumping to the “big stage.” What followed however, was a series of losses for the promising fighter, although never being stopped or dominated in any of the bouts, Macdonald would lose by decision to Jason Brilz, Marvin Eastman, and Shonie Carter during 2005. After appearing to settle in to his new fighting weight at 185, Macdonald ended the losing skid in September, by defeating Chris Fontaine, the former TKO Middleweight Champion at MFC 8. “The Athlete” then proceeded to submit UFC veteran Joe Doerksen with a rear naked choke in the 4th round of their bout at Ultimate Cage Wars 3 in October, and it appeared that Macdonald was indeed back on track.

Then Macdonald took a fight on only a few days notice against the still relatively unknown commodity, Kalib Starnes. The bout took place on November 25 of 2005 in North Vancouver , and the future “Ultimate Fighter” star defeated the veteran Macdonald in the first round by TKO. Next, Macdonald met another future TUF competitor and UFC veteran Patrick Cote at MFC 9 in March of 2006. Despite a thrilling performance and nearly ending the fight several times, Macdonald once again fell short, losing to Cote by rear naked choke in the fifth and final round.

But the full time Corrections Officer and family man never gave up, convinced in his abilities, Macdonald continued to compete often during 2006. A huge win over another UFC veteran in Gideon Ray at Extreme Caged Combat followed in April, three more successive victories over Jerry Spiegel, Fritz Paul and Neil Berry came next. Finally in October last year, Macdonald received the call the last 7 years of his life had been dedicated too, the UFC was offering him a fight.

What has transpired during his time competing for the promotion is of course by now well documented, Macdonald, equipped with a new and improved jiu-jitsu game due to extensive training with Gracie Barra Black Belt Josh Russell, submitted TUF Team Quest fighters Ed Herman and Chris Leben in succession. The fighter proudly proclaimed he was “nobody’s stepping stone” and his performance demonstrated just that. Now, waiting in the wings, is the highly regarded, former champion Rich Franklin, and regardless of what happens Saturday night, no one can question “The Athlete’s” heart or conviction.

No comments: