An advancing MacDonald says he may have lose the killer instinct when it come to fighting, but longtime trainer Firas Zahabi doesn’t expect to see MacDonald retire anytime soon.
“A lot of fighters go through these kinds of things,” Zahabi said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show (via Jed Meshew of MMA Fighting). “He’s not the first guy to see both sides of fighting - the good part, the darker part - and then kind of come to these realizations. So I wasn’t surprised. I’ve heard him talk about it publicly, I’ve seen the headlines. We have talked. I know him so well - I watched him grow up in my gym - so I see what’s going on with him. I see the direction that he’s taking and it’s up to him. It’s his decision, it’s his life, it’s his career. I think the pendulum always swings the other way as well. He’s gonna feel that way now and then tomorrow he may get over it and then he might feel that way again. It’s normal to have mixed feelings. He’s still in a $1 million tournament. He still has fights booked. These are normal emotions, especially after a fight. You’re so full of emotions right after a fight like that. So I think he was just being honest but again, the pendulum might swing the other way. He might wake up today be like, ‘You know what, let’s do this. Let’s fight. Let’s continue.’ And I think that’s what’s going to happen. The kid’s a natural-born fighter, and I feel like he’s going to continue on his journey.”
MacDonald is expected to fight Gracie in about six weeks and Zahabi says its up to MacDonald to determine if he’ll be ready in time.
“That’s very tight,” Zahabi said. “It’s up to Rory. He’s going to have to assess his body. Is he ready for another weight cut? Is he ready to go back to training? That’s really him. [But] I would say take the fight. Ultimately it’s the fighter’s decision but I think he beats Neiman, I think he moves onto the main event, it’s a million dollar fight. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. He gets a chance to defend his title again. Being world champion is a serious thing. Sometimes you are only world champion once and this is a great time. I think he’ll look back at his life in the future, he’ll look back at these title defenses, these fights, and he’ll be really happy with them.”
The winner of the MacDonald/Gracie bout will face the winner of the MVP/Douglas Lima fight in the finals of the welterweight world grand prix.