SEATTLE – There were differing viewpoints on the merit of UFC on FOX 8's co-main event, though among those within the promotion, the most forceful opinion came afterward from UFC President Dana White.
Following the FOX-televised fight, which took place Saturday night at Seattle's KeyArena, White specifically took aim Jake Ellenberger's (29-7 MMA, 8-3 UFC) performance at the post-event press conference. But Rory MacDonald (15-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) didn't escape notice, either.
"When you get these fights where guys talk s--t, those fights always suck," White said of the bout. "I think that for Ellenberger to go out and say [MacDonald] doesn't deserve to be in the top-10 and then not go out and try to prove that he doesn't belong in the top-10...Ellenberger literally did nothing.
"And in my opinion, Rory didn't do anything to try and finish him and put a stamp on it and make a statement, not only to the world, but to the guys that are in the division."
Welterweight MacDonald, who's ranked No. 6 in the USA Today Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA welterweight rankings, unanimously outpointed No. 3 Ellenberger in a fight expected to have title implications in the 170-pound division. But the two hardly engaged over 15 minutes and were booed for much of the fight's latter half.
Prior to the bout, the two built the fight into something of a grudge match by sparring on Twitter. Ellenberger, in particular, was particularly vocal in attacking MacDonald's credentials.
But, as White complained, his "punch stats were almost zero."
MacDonald defended his performance by saying he took the opening that Ellenberger offered, which in this case was a jab he persistently used to score during the three-round fight.
"I think I did exactly what I was supposed to do," MacDonald told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "I kept up my end, and he's a counter-puncher, and a very powerful puncher. I was waiting for my opportunities."
As for the boos that showered the cage, the 24-year-old fighter said he wasn't paying attention.
"I was focused on the task at hand, and I was waiting for the knockout to come," MacDonald said. "I was being patient. I think I did the right thing. I wasn't rushing in like a fool or an amateur fighter. Sometimes, knockouts take a little bit of time. You've got to let it happen. I wasn't forcing anything. Unfortunately, I ran out of time."
On the other side of the podium, Ellenberger was almost beside himself with disappointment.
"It just wasn't my night," he said. "I didn't pull the trigger. I really have nothing to add. I'll leave it at that.
"I respect the fact that so much strategy goes into a fight. Rory's been very respectful to me. But like I said, I'm just very disappointed in myself."
At the press conference, White declined to say where MacDonald's win puts him on the welterweight ladder, noting that a pair of upcoming fights (champ Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit) needed to play out before the promotion maps out a plan.
Afterward, he maintained that MacDonald remains one of the best fighters in the world. But he made it clear that the fighter has some work to do to restore his standing.
"He went out and bulled B.J. (Penn) because he knew he could," White said. "He didn't try to bully Ellenberger. Don't come in and say my fight was great and technical and I belong in the top-10 and all this s--t, and don't go in there and try to perform. I don't think he performed. I don't think he did anything. He threw a few jabs and some front kicks.
"I don't think he moves down the ladder, but do you think anybody's screaming to see him fight again? Unfortunately, we live in a business where you're as good as your last fight. That kid's in a tough enough position as it is. He trains in Georges St-Pierre's hometown, where he trains, and everything is Georges St-Pierre this, Georges St-Pierre that, and the kid has to walk around and say he doesn't want to fight Georges St-Pierre when we all f---ing know he wants to fight Georges St-Pierre. But why would he go beating his chest saying he wants to fight Georges St-Pierre when that fight isn't even close to happening yet.
"But tonight was the night. Tonight was an important night that everybody was excited for, and yes, I understand that sometimes you know you're fighting somebody dangerous. F---king Ellenberger just sat there f---king 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---king good and talented, then you imposed your will on him and show the rest of the world, not only do I belong in the top-five, I should be fighting Georges St-Pierre."
"(UFC executive) Lorenzo (Fertitta) texted me and said, 'This is terrible.' I texted him back and said, 'Ellenberger's freezing. He froze tonight. I don't know why, but he did. And when he froze, Rory did nothing."
Ultimately, White said he hoped that the fight served as a learning experience for MacDonald.
"You don't want to put on a bunch of performances like that," he said. "It's not good for anybody. It's not good for him, it's not good for us, it's not good for the sport. Not good for FOX. Definitely not good for pay-per-view."