The comeback is officially on.
After being unceremoniously dumped by the UFC after a loss to Nate Quarry at UFC 97 in Montreal in April, Jason MacDonald has signed a two-fight deal with Maximum Fighting Championship series. His first fight will be the main event at MFC: 22 Payoff on Oct. 2 at the River Cree Resort and Casino against another fighter looking to claw his way back to the top — Travis Lutter.
“I want to continue to fight at the highest level, and it’s real important for me to fight my way back into the UFC,” said MacDonald. “The MFC is a great option for me to do that. It’s probably the third biggest show in North America . . . and I think at their last show they had five UFC veterans and it’s broadcast live across North America. It’s a big opportunity to step up and be the main event in something like that.”
MacDonald enters the fight with more than just his 21-12 career record on the line.
Before his final fight in the UFC there had been no real indication that it was a win-or-go-home fight for the Red Deer resident. But the loss was MacDonald’s second in a row and third in his last four bouts, and the UFC dropped the axe.
However, they didn’t slam the door shut on his career, leaving it slightly ajar, telling MacDonald that if he could prove he could still win there may be another shot with the top company in the mixed martial arts business. Kind of like a baseball team sending a starting pitcher to the minors so he can find his game.
Needless to say, MacDonald needs this fight to go well.
“I’m going to need a great fight to walk away with a victory from (Lutter),” said MacDonald, 34.
Lutter won’t be any easy opponent either, which is key.
The Fort Worth, Tex., native brings a 9-5 record into the ring but has only fought twice since winning Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2006, and both of those fights were losses — albeit to two of the top middleweights in the business: current champion Anderson Silva and Rich Franklin.
“Travis has a world class jiujitsu game that is his strength, so I’ll certainly be trying to fight him outside of that realm,” said MacDonald. “The one thing about Lutter is that his conditioning is always questionable and his will to win, if he can’t beat you in the first round he tends to fade really bad and really fast.”
MacDonald has the advantage of being a more versatile fighter, proving he can win by any means necessary, whether it is in a ground and pound match, through submission or even knockout.
“I’m known as a bit of a slow starter and as the fight goes on I get better and better,” said MacDonald. “I like to think I’m a better well rounded fighter and certainly I’m a much better athlete than Travis Lutter is. While he’s certainly good on the ground, the buck stops there.”
MFC president Mark Pavelich has tried to build up the fight by saying that MacDonald told him he “has some bad intentions for Lutter.”
Truthfully MacDonald has never spoken with Lutter, but he doesn’t need any bad blood to motivate him.
“There’s no real conflict between him and I, he’s just standing in the way of where I need to be,” said MacDonald.
The last few months have given MacDonald time to reflect on his career — something he hasn’t had a lot of time to do since joining the UFC. He realizes that he won’t be fighting for another 10 years, but he figures he has a few good years left and a return to the UFC is definitely the main goal.
“You don’t realize how important it is to be apart of something until you are no longer apart of it,” said MacDonald. “I think after 10 fights in the UFC I started to become a bit complacent as far as being a UFC fighter. When that’s swept away from you it really makes you do some soul searching and you realize that once it’s no longer there that it’s real important to you and a big part of your life. It has re-energized me and made me realize I still have that drive to be there and be competitive there.
“My whole UFC career I fought a lot of tough guys — half of my fights were against Top 5 guys — I had the opportunity there to fight some great guys and put on some really great fights so its certainly something I want to get back to.
“I want to leave the UFC on my terms and not having my contract terminated.”
Despite being let go by the UFC, MacDonald insists there are no hard feelings. He even has some understanding as to why he was let go.
“I have a great relationship with the UFC, my time there was nothing but awesome,” said MacDonald. “The UFC is bogged down with a lot of fighters right now — being the biggest organization and having a lot of the smaller organizations crumble . . . basically they said ‘We have so many fighters we want the guys we do have to be the creme of the crop. If you’re not winning we’re going to give someone else the opportunity in your spot.’”
For now MacDonald is looking forward to the opportunity to fighting close to home for the first time since he was a rising star in the MFC ranks in 2006 at MFC 10: Unfinished business — a first round submission win over Neil Berry.
“It’s right in my back yard,” he said. “I started my career fighting in the MFC and I fought my way into the UFC using the MFC as an avenue. I’m pretty excited to get back in the ring and perform and fight in front of all my friends and family that haven’t been able to be there live to support me the past couple of years in the UFC.”
Tickets for MFC:22 Payoff can be purchased at MacDonald’s gym Purefitness. It can also be watched live on HDNET.