UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald has a stiff challenge ahead of him in former lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn at UFC on Fox 5, but he's acting pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. In interviews and conference calls over the last few weeks, he has deflected most questions about his opponent by stating that his training is what matters, and he's not that concerned with what his opponent does. At a Q&A before UFC 154, he did open up a bit and compare himself to Penn though:
"I just think that I’m a better fighter. I’m not really scared to fight him anywhere. He’s obviously very good on the ground, and a good striker; you have to be competent in all areas of mixed martial arts, and I am."
"I feel I’m a better striker, a better wrestler and better on the ground as far as MMA jiu jitsu. Probably not straight jiu jitsu because we all know what he’s done there, but I feel in a straight mixed martial arts fight, I’m a little more well rounded than he is."
On yesterday's conference call, he drove home a different point when asked if BJ's past opponent (and Rory's teammate) Georges St. Pierre had helped MacDonald prepare for the bout:
I didn’t really ask him anything. I watched it (GSP vs Penn). I’m not the kind of guy that wants to know everything about somebody, I really don’t care. For all I know BJ could have completely changed his training and maybe he’s a Muay Thai fighter now, who knows. I don’t really care. I just get better as a fighter, as a martial artist. I really don’t care about the past.
What he is concerned with is his own training, and staying healthy:
Being more smart with my training. When I feel like I'm breaking down a little bit, I take a day off. Or if I'm not up for sparring I'll go swimming instead. If I'm healthy I can fight on a minute's notice. I just need to be healthy.
We'll see if focusing on himself and not his opponent is enough for him to pull off the victory on December 8th.