I finally had the opportunity to see Rory Macdonald's UFC debut, and I came away both impressed and excited about his future. At 20 years old, Macdonald is the youngest member of the UFC roster. His debut was against Mike Guymon, a veteran fighter who is sadly notorious for his suicide attempt. Going into their fight, Macdonald was 9-0 and Guymon was 11-2 with losses to Pat Healy and Diego Sanchez. Guymon is no world beater, but he's also no joke. Getting his shot in the UFC was his dream come true, and he was going to make the most of it.
Macdonald's performance was far from flawless. He wasn't strong enough to keep Guymon down when he got him there the first time, and he took a big right hand that momentarily buckled him. However, these mistakes also gave him the opportunity to show his impressive resilience and composure. He survived the big shot, got Guymon down, went for a kimura, and then moved to an armbar when the opening was there. It was a veteran-like performance from a 20 year old.
Macdonald's striking and wrestling looked good too. He had a nice jab, threw punches in combinations, and was able to easily stuff all of Guymon's takedown attempts. One obstacle for him at this point is size; he is a small welterweight, and I think he would get ragdolled by the huge 170's. At the same time, he's only 20 years old and he's still growing. I suspect that in 2-3 years he'll be one of the bigger guys in the division.
Macdonald is a special prospect because he's trained in "MMA" from the beginning. He's not a college wrestler or jiu-jitsu champion that learned other skills; he's slowly bringing every skill along in tandem. He's also from British Columbia, which is a big deal for the UFC. If they got a St. Pierre-level fighter out of British Columbia it would be huge for them; the UFC does bigger business in Vancouver than it does in Montreal.
Macdonald, like other prospects, is nowhere near his peak as a fighter. From what I've seen, his peak is probably over 3 years away. He may be in the UFC too early, so it's up to Joe Silva to bring him along at the right pace. What's next for Macdonald? Probably a fight in Vancouver in June, hopefully on the main card.