Friday, March 9, 2007

Jason MacDonald Update

By Andy Cotterill

Many of us watched last Saturday night as Red Deer, Alberta's Jason MacDonald faced the toughest competition yet of his UFC career, as he succumbed to a tough stoppage loss against determined former champion Rich Franklin.

MacDonald's corner stopped the fight at the end of round two, and yesterday I spoke to the man who made that decision, trainer/manager Mark Pavelich. Now back in his hometown of Edmonton, Pavelich gave me his thoughts on the fight and some ideas about MacDonald's future.

When MacDonald went to sit on the stool after round two, his legs felt wobbly and he was having a hard time standing. Pavelich knew something was seriously wrong when he told "The Athlete" to look him in the eye and instead he looked over his shoulder.

That's when MacDonald told him that he was completely blind in his right eye, an injury that occurred from the second or third to last punch by Franklin to end the round. Also, his left eye was fairly swollen, limiting his visibility there. That's when Pavelich knew he had to call the fight.

"If I hadn't have said anything Jason would have gone right back out there." said Pavelich. "You'd think it would be a hard decision, but it wasn't. Jason's safety came first."

Following the event MacDonald went to the hospital with fellow combatants Chris Lytle and Renato Sobral. Jason required seven stitches around his right eye, and the doctor told him that it was probably a broken blood vessel that caused his blindness, which was more than likely temporary.

Back in Alberta for an updated check-up, the middleweight had already regained some vision; however when asked to look to the side he experienced a sharp pain and saw a black dot.

Jason really had nothing to lose going into this fight, and there is certainly some good to come out of it. Pavelich says that UFC official Jim Tatum told him that the UFC loves MacDonald, a viewpoint shared by the fans at the official weigh-ins when Jason received a louder cheer than former heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.

More good news followed for "The Athlete" on Tuesday night, when he was the first ever recipient of the Edmonton Boxing and Wrestling Commission's Mixed Martial Arts Fighter of the Year Award.

He received the award at a gala dinner and was joined by his wife Kelly, Pro Camp and Maximum Fighting Championship Owner/President Mark Pavelich and the entire Pro Camp/MFC team.

The presentation to MacDonald included a videotaped message of congratulations from UFC president Dana White.

Several months ago Pavelich told me that due to Jason's seven fights in the past year, regardless of the outcome of the Franklin fight, he would get some well deserved time off. I'm not sure if he told MacDonald though, as I've heard that he's already back in the gym working out.

Also in his plans, MacDonald intends to help his teammate Victor Valimaki prepare to take on Italian slugger Alessio Sakara April 21 in Manchester, England.

Speaking of the UK card, word around the playground has it that UFC 70 will be broadcast free on Spike TV.

Finally, when asked about future opponents for "The Athlete," Pavelich said that MacDonald has proven he belongs in the mix with other top middleweight contenders. No specifics have been discussed with the UFC, but Pavelich added that he'd like to see a match-up with Dane Martin Kampmann.

More MFC

After speaking with Mark Pavelich about MacDonald, he then revealed some updates on his own promotion, the Maximum Fighting Championship, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

The MFC has several events planned for the next few months. First will be the third installment of its "Unplugged" series on April 20, followed by MFC 12 "High Stakes" on June 22, also in Edmonton.

Halifax's Roger Hollet will co-headline Unplugged 3 against an as yet undisclosed opponent. Prior to that, Hollett takes on Ricardeau Francois at ECC 5 "Night of Champions" in Halifax. At stake will be the newly created ECC light heavyweight title.

Pavelich and the MFC must have been very impressed with Hollett's 36-second KO of Mike Maurer at MFC 11, as they've booked him for this fight, as well as have started plans for his grudge match with RITC light heavyweight champion Jason Day at MFC 12.

Day is an extremely tough fighter based out of Lee Mein's Canadian Martial Arts Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. After his victory at MFC 11, Hollett grabbed the microphone in the center of the ring to announce that he heard that Jason Day claimed he'd be able to beat him in less than two minutes, and then proceeded to tell Day to "just sign on the dotted line."

This is a fight that could have happened for quite some time now, and if it does, it has the potential for greatness. Mark Pavelich agrees, saying that it could potentially eclipse what is in his opinion the greatest MFC fight ever, the five-round war between Jason MacDonald and Patrick Cote at MFC 9.

Pavelich added, "You know, it wouldn't surprise me to see the winner of that fight get the call to the UFC."

Back to Unplugged 3, Hollett's co-headliner will be B.J. Penn's heavyweight student Scott Junk, fighting for the first time outside of the Hawaiian Islands.

Junk is a mountain of a man with enough natural talent to push former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez into the second round in his first ever fight.

"That was with almost no training," Pavelich said. "Could you imagine how good he'll be given time?"

Junk's opponent will be 2-0 Dominic Richard, fresh off an amazing six-second knockout of Brent Weatherhill at NFC 7 in Vancouver.

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