When the co-main event fight between Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger ended on Saturday night, the two competitors were drowned in a chorus of boos from the crowd in attendance after a fairly lackluster 15-minute bout.
Heading into UFC on Fox 8, MacDonald vs. Ellenberger was regarded as a fight that could steal the show as the real main event after the two welterweights sparred on Twitter and in interviews, not to mention the fact that they were both ranked in the top five of their division.
What resulted was a far cry from an instant classic, as MacDonald essentially jabbed Ellenberger repeatedly over three rounds to earn a unanimous decision.
Following the fight, MacDonald was praised by several reporters for a technically brilliant masterpiece—both on site in Seattle and on Twitter—while fans and other journalists panned the fight as a boring affair that few would want to watch again.
UFC president Dana White fell into the latter category. After having such high expectations about the fight going into the show, he was sorely disappointed when it was over.
White points to Ellenberger for part of the blame because he failed to engage at almost every moment in the fight, but he also turned his ire toward MacDonald because he refused to take advantage of the situation.
"Ellenberger did nothing. Ellenberger did nothing and he's told you, you don't belong in the top 10. (MacDonald) went out and bullied B.J. (Penn) because he knew he could. He didn't try to bully Ellenberger. Don't come in and say 'oh my fight was great, it was technical and this and that and I belong in the top 10,' and talk all this s*** and don't go in there and try to perform," White said when speaking to reporters after UFC on Fox 8 ended. "I don't think he did anything. He threw a few jabs and some front kicks."
White says the fight with Ellenberger was MacDonald's chance to separate himself from the crowd at 170 pounds—his chance to define his standing as a contender in the division.
It's widely known that MacDonald trains at the same gym as UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, and the two have said on numerous occasions that they would never fight each other. White believes it's all just posturing until MacDonald reaches the point where he stands alone as the No. 1 contender, and he had a chance to do that on Saturday night and failed.
"That kid's in a tough enough position as it is—he lives in Georges St-Pierre's house, he trains in Georges St-Pierre's hometown, and everything's Georges St-Pierre this and Georges St-Pierre that, and the kid has to walk around and say he doesn’t want to fight Georges St-Pierre," White said about MacDonald.
"We all f***ing know he wants to fight Georges St-Pierre, but why would he go out beating his chest that he wants to fight Georges St-Pierre when that fight isn't even close to happening yet," White continued.
"Tonight was a night, an important night, that everybody was excited for. Yes, I understand sometimes you know you're fighting somebody dangerous, but f***ing Ellenberger just sat there. Ellenberger sat two feet away from me and said 'that wasn't me tonight, I wasn't myself.' So if you're Rory and you're that f***ing good and you're that talented, then you impose your will on him and you show the rest of the world not only do I belong in the top five, I should be fighting Georges St-Pierre."
White says the fight won't do long-term damage to MacDonald's career so long as he doesn't duplicate it again in his next trip to the Octagon, but his performance didn't do him any favors, either.
"I don't think he moves down the ladder, but do you think anybody's screaming to see him in a f***ing fight again?" White asked. "We live in a business, unfortunately, that you're as good as your last fight.
"Rory's one of the best in the world. He didn't look it tonight."