Wednesday, February 28, 2007


By Mike Russell

Canadian Standout Hopes to Earn Title Contention With Win Over Ex-Middleweight Champ Franklin at Saturday/s UFC 68.

Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald once said that he would pass any test that the UFC would give him with flying colors. After making short work of less-challenging evaluations designed by “The Ultimate Fighter” and Team Quest mates Ed Herman and Chris Leben, self-proclaimed “TUF Killer” MacDonald faces a tougher examiner in Rich Franklin this Saturday night at UFC 68 “The Uprising” at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.

Former high school Math teacher Franklin is a stingy marker – he’s only passed two, Ryoto Machida and Anderson Silva, out of the twenty-two he has quizzed, but MacDonald believes that he will be able to successfully answer any problems the Cincinnati native might pose.
Some feel that Franklin (20-2) may hold an edge in striking over MacDonald (18-7), but the former Red Deer, Alberta correctional officer believes that his striking skills match-up well with the former champion and thinks that Franklin’s reputation as a knockout specialist has been greatly exaggerated.

“Franklin always looks to throw the big left and I know to be cautious of it but I don’t think he is a knockout puncher. He caught Nate Quarry with a solid shot and knocked him out but if you look at his last ten fights that’s his only knockout,” asserts MacDonald. “I think my stand-up skills are on par with his. I’ve never really utilized my striking as much as I maybe should have. In a fight you always revert back to what you’re comfortable with and what you’re best at and for me that would be submissions and ground-and-pound.”

Opting to concentrate on the basics during his most recent training camp, MacDonald few South for the winter, hoping powerhouse players Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans and Diego Sanchez will raise his game to championship proportions.

“I haven’t made any drastic changes other than the fact that I’ve spent the majority of my training camp down here at Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque New Mexico,” says MacDonald. “I’m training with some top caliber UFC fighters. We’ve watched some tapes of Franklin’s fights and picked his style apart and have put together a pretty good game plan for me to beat him.”

Not wanting to dilute his successful training formula by taking on too many fighters, Jackson, who has developed a penchant for training Canadian fighters, is understandably cautious when taking on more bodies. He says that bringing MacDonald into the camp was “a no-brainer” but “The Athlete” who plans on making the trek down to train in New Mexico for subsequent fights contends that his locker room seat in Albuquerque was not immediately reserved.

“I got in touch with Greg and asked him if I could come down and work with his guys for my next fight. They’re a really close-knit team so they had a team meeting and decided that it would be a mutually beneficial situation,” recalls MacDonald. “Albuquerque will definitely be a part of my training in the future. I’ve been working with some top level UFC guys and have brought my game up to a new level. It’s been great.”

A victory by MacDonald Saturday night would prove apropos considering many believe that the Canadian fighter was brought into the UFC to act as a stepping stone for Herman and Leben and a confidence builder for Franklin.

By defeating the former champion, Macdonald would put himself into title contention, and could find himself facing Jackson wunderkind Nate Marquardt in the near future. The two did not train together due to a schedule conflict, but similar to the sentiments expressed by Evans over the prospect of fighting training partner Jardine, MacDonald states that he would rather not step into the Octagon with his newly adopted teammate, Marquardt.

Marquardt will not be standing across from MacDonald Saturday in Ohio, but there’s a former UFC Middleweight Champion who will be, and he’ll be hungry.

“Rich is going to be anxious and come at me quickly,” predicts MacDonald. “I’m going to catch him and submit him.”

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