It was only a short while ago we had to contemplate the idea of whether or not teammates would fight one another for a title belt. Jon Jones was looking to be ready for a title shot sooner than later with teammate Rashad Evans scheduled to face Shogun Rua for the title. A fortuitous injury to Evans left Jones in the driver’s seat, the last candidate Zuffa wanted because Jones was still a burgeoning prospect at that point. Rampage Jackson was offered Rua, declining because he couldn’t make 205 on six weeks’ notice, and Jones took the fight an underdog on a lot of people’s books. His then teammate would wait on the winner of that fight and a dilemma formed.
Would Rashad Evans and Jon Jones fight will still being members of Team Jackson?
Evans would take the fight and leave the team he helped popularize, starting his own in Florida, but the dilemma remained for a lot of fighters, pundits and fans. Should teammates fight? Rory MacDonald is about to have to contemplate that question this weekend and find himself in the same spot Jones was at a pivotal point in his career. Jake Ellenberger is in the same spot Ryan Bader was, as well: another talented prospect on the cusp of breaking through to the elite of the division. MacDonald is the more interesting case, though, because his move to GSP’s Tri-Star gym was the first step in his ascension to the top of the division.
Would he be willing to take on his teammate for a shot at UFC gold?
That’s the dilemma for MacDonald, pending a win, because he’ll have rightfully earned a shot at unseating Georges St. Pierre from his perch atop the UFC welterweight division. In a division that’s slowly running out of challengers for GSP, and a potential super fight with Anderson Silva off the table for the time being, a win over Ellenberger cements MacDonald as next in line. Carlos Condit had his shot (and missed) and Johny Hendricks, ranked #1 in the world right now, has his shot scheduled.
The winner of this fight has rightfully staked their claim to the winner of Hendricks/GSP. If both Tri-Star gym members walk out victorious, and there’s a very real possibility they won’t, it sets up the biggest dilemma for both fighters in some time. And probably large dollar signs in the eyes of Zuffa brass.
GSP has been willing to fight anyone the UFC has offered him, including former training partner Condit, but MacDonald has always stated that GSP was his friend/training partner and not an opponent. Thusly he’s always stated that he’d rather move to middleweight than fight for the welterweight title as long as GSP holds it.
Dana White has always countered that when he saw GSP’s check he’d reconsider, of course, and thus the dilemma comes in. Will Rory … or won’t he? He’d be in a similar spot to Jon Jones before he tasted gold.