Wednesday, March 7, 2007

MacDonald still hungry despite black eyes

By Jonathan Huntington

Jason MacDonald doesn't paint a pretty picture.

"I don't look so good," said the mixed-martial arts scrapper on the phone yesterday. "I have got some black eyes and seven stitches (around) that right eye. And I am still having some nasty pain in that eye." That damage is from the beating he took last weekend from Rich Franklin in UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio.

With a middleweight title shot on the line, MacDonald took several wicked punches in the final moments of the second round that actually left him blinded in his right eye.

But the good news is the vision has returned - and MacDonald is hungry for another shot in the ring.

"Hopefully the UFC will give me another (fight) soon and I will get back on the winning track," he said.

With a four-fight contract in the UFC, MacDonald has three scraps left on the deal. A summertime bout is a distinct possibility.

The 31-year-old transplanted Albertan is now 2-1 in the UFC. His first two fights - which brought healthy paycheques complete with a combined $40,000 in bonus money - gave him the guaranteed contract.

While losing to Franklin stings in more ways than one, MacDonald knows he made mistakes that can be corrected.

"I was being really aggressive against Rich Franklin and he was fighting a real cautious fight," said MacDonald.

"I was getting a little impatient chasing him around the ring and maybe I was just trying to force the takedown a little too much."

For a few seconds in the second round MacDonald had Franklin - the No. 2-ranked middleweight in the UFC - in a arm-bar hold.

But in the blink of an eye Franklin got out.

And it was literally lights out from there.

"The second last blow hit me square in the right eye and I saw a little flash and then at the end of the round I couldn't see out of my right eye," he recalled.

Edmonton-based trainer Mark Pavelich stopped the fight after MacDonald wobbled back to his corner. And the scene after that decision has actually sparked a new fire in Pavelich.

"I saw some of the UFC staff jumping up and down like Rich Franklin was their child or something and I took great, great offence to that," said Pavelich. "I am going to take that into training every day now until we get back there."

FINISH LINES: MacDonald received the Edmonton Boxing and Wrestling Commission's athlete of the year award for 2006 in the mixed martial arts category last night.


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