“He’s mostly been running his mouth about me,” MacDonald told FOX Sports. “I didn’t really have a problem with him. He’s just another fighter on a piece of paper to me. He’s had a lot to say. It doesn’t really matter if the guy I’m fighting is nice or an (expletive).”
The back-and-forth has somewhat obscured the importance of this fight to the welterweight division, a class that’s been dominated by champ (and MacDonald’s training partner at Montreal’s Tri-Star Gym) Georges St-Pierre for years. St-Pierre next fights No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November.
What comes after may hinge on what transpires in the Octagon on Saturday.
“I haven’t looked past this fight,” Ellenberger told FOX Sports. “It’ my goal, for sure, to fight for the title. I’m always working toward a championship fight. But (MacDonald) is definitely a tough kid.”
MacDonald, 24, is the No. 3 contender in the division, according to the UFC’s official rankings; Ellenberger, 28, is ranked No. 4.
“I’m just going to focus on this fight for now,” MacDonald said in a recent conference call with reporters. “My whole career has just kind of been going with the flow. Everything changes after each fight, so I’ll see where I am after this fight. Nothing’s out of the question.”
MacDonald had indicated that he’d be apprehensive about fighting St-Pierre.
“I don’t think he’s ever said he won’t fight GSP,” UFC president Dana White said. “When that day comes, when he gets to that place where it’s time for GSP vs. Rory MacDonald, I’m sure that’s when Rory MacDonald will want to talk about fighting GSP.”
MacDonald’s health — more than his friendship with St-Pierre — has been more of an issue over the last several months. MacDonald was slated to fight Carlos Condit at UFC 158 in March, but had to withdraw due to injury.
“It’s been really tough and a little bit depressing,” MacDonald said. “It’s the second fight I had to pull out of over the last year. It’s frustrating, but I’m happy it’s over. I’m back in a good spot and fighting a good fighter.”
Ellenberger has guaranteed that he’ll be the one pushing the action in the bout.
“Rory doesn’t have a choice where this fight goes,” Ellenberger said. “This fight goes where I want it to go and I’ve shown that in past fights. I’m excited. He surely has potential, but he has not faced anybody like me, so I’m stoked to get in there.”
Ellenberger already has at least pushed the conversation.
“It doesn’t really matter,” MacDonald said. “I’m not the kind of person who worries about it. Talk is cheap. It doesn’t faze me. It’s not going to disrupt my focus. My job is to fight and I’m going to do that.”