Rory MacDonald hasn’t lost back-to-back fights in his career to date and he’s hoping to avoid that dubious feat on Saturday when he takes on Stephen Thompson to headline UFC Fight Night 89. MacDonald should have the crowd on his side as the event will be hosted in his home country in Canada as the UFC makes their first visit to Ottawa, Ontario.
MacDonald is coming off a loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 and that was a particularly stinging defeat. MacDonald, who is now 18-3, had a shot at the UFC Welterweight belt but lost what turned out to be not only the Fight of the Night, but Fight of the Year for 2015. He’s in for another challenging bout on Saturday versus Thompson.
Thompson has won six straight fights to improve to 12-1 and comes into this bout with plenty of momentum. He rocked Johny Hendricks’ world at UFC Fight Night 82 in what was deemed the Performance of the Night. He’s earned that honor in three of his last four appearances, which shows that he’s not just winning fights, he’s dominating.
It’ll be interesting to see how this fight is fought as MacDonald is a balanced fighter but loves to end bouts with his hands. His hands have been less and less effective as he’s stepped up in competition, though. Two of his first five UFC wins were via knockout, but since then he has just one knockout win in his last seven bouts. MacDonald does have a ground game, though, making him the more versatile of the two fighters. Thompson would love nothing more than to keep this standing as four of his last five bouts have come via knockout, as have 58% of his wins. He has a decent reach at 72 inches and will try to keep all of MacDonald’s takedowns at bay.
MacDonald is a slight -105 underdog in this bout with Thompson coming in at -125. He tends to bounce back well from losses and will have the crowd behind him, but he’ll have to avoid standing and trading with Thompson.
MacDonald will be just one of many Canadians on the card as four others will take part in the main card. Patrick Cote, Steve Bosse, Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Valerie Letourneau all take on different opponents to round out the main card. Of those fights, the most interesting should be the bout between Cerrone and Cote.
Cerrone enters the fight as a -175 favorite while Cote comes in at +145. Both are veterans that are in the twilight of their careers, but are still performing at a high level. Cerrone has won nine of his last 10 fights, although the one loss was his shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC on FOX in December. Cote hasn’t been competing in fights of that magnitude, but he has won six of his last seven fights. Interestingly enough, he’s mostly been tapped for Canadian cards as five of his last seven appearances have come in his home country.
TD Place will open its door at 6:45pm ET on Saturday as they work their way through their undercards all the way up to Thompson-MacDonald.