“If you’re gonna test you might as well test all the way through. It wouldn’t make any sense not to, you know what I mean?” he tells a Sherdog interviewer.
The two were originally set to meet at UFC 152 but MacDonald pulled out after suffering a big cut in training. The cut was over his right eye and according to his camp required 38 stitches to repair. He pulled out from the UFC 152 meeting but immediately became embroiled in a row about its rescheduling.
Penn wanted the fight moved to UFC 153, MacDonald’s team said that was too early to allow full healing and they asked for UFC 154 (coincidentally taking place in their home city of Montreal). In the end the dispute was settled by the UFC using the fight to beef up its FOX 5 card.
The whole thing took place against a backdrop of Penn’s implying that MacDonald is a steroid user. Penn had managed to get MacDonald to agree to undergo voluntary testing by VADA in the lead-in to the bout and conspiracy theorists seized on the pull-out as evidence MacDonald has something to hide.
Penn’s theory is that MacDonald “knew he was gonna lose”.
“I know the reason why Rory [MacDonald] pulled out on September 22nd. The cut is a detail but I know the reason why he pulled out is because he knew he wasn't gonna win… I've never heard of a guy pulling out of a fight 10 weeks early from a cut. Never in my life have I heard of a guy, 10 weeks before a fight, he got cut, he pulled out,” he told Sherdog.
“He feels he has to do what's best for him, for his team, they're gonna do that, but it's 100 percent fact that the reason why they pulled out is because they knew they were gonna lose on September 22nd. If not, you wouldn't pull out, you would go [on with the fight].”
Penn maintains that the cut, severe as it was, is not something that should stop a fight taking place ten weeks away. He claims he has been through similar circumstances and soldiered on.
“I had a cut on my eye, 13 stitches inside and out five weeks before the Diaz fight. Didn't care. Opened up from eight weeks every week all the way up to the fifth week before the Diaz fight but did I ever think about pulling out? Not even once.”