Red Deer MMC fighter Jason MacDonald tries to turn the tide

Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald isn’t much for looking back. Which is probably wise when you have lost four of your last five fights.

Canadian middleweight Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald (left) takes a shot from Nate Quarry at UFC 97 on April 18

Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald isn’t much for looking back. Which is probably wise when you have lost four of your last five fights.

But the 34-year-old middleweight from Red Deer firmly believes he is a better mixed martial arts fighter than his recent record suggests. And he plans to prove it Friday night against (King) Solomon Hutcherson at MFC 23 in Enoch (HDNet, 10 p.m. ET).

“I personally feel like you never do yourself any good if you dwell on the negative stuff,” MacDonald said. “If I dwell on those lost fights and can’t get past that, then it’s impossible to move forward.

“If you fight the top-level guys and have as many fights as I do, you’re bound to lose a few. We see lots of guys out there lose a couple of fights and rebound. I’m not comparing myself to Forrest Griffin but he has just dropped two fights and was able to bounce back with a great win (over Tito Ortiz) and all people remember is the big win.”

“I don’t think that’s any reflection of what kind of fighter I am or what calibre I’m at,” he said of his recent run. “I’ve had a little streak of bad luck.”

MacDonald may also be partly to blame. For a while, he seemed determined to live or die by his standup skills, which are not his forte. In some fights, he also showed an inclination to ignore the game plan when the cage door shut.

He did stick to his strategy in his last UFC outing at UFC 97 in Montreal in April. He took Nate Quarry to the fence and tried to take him down. But in so doing, he ended up on the bottom and Quarry busted his face open with elbows.

Prior to that, he stood toe to toe with Wilson Gouveia and paid for it at the Season 8 finale of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ last December. Gouveia caught an advancing MacDonald with a left flush to the chin and the Canadian crumpled at the fence, absorbing a string of hammer-fists and some 18 elbow strikes that carved open his forehead before tapping out to stop the punishment after two minutes 18 seconds.

Hutcherson (11-5) may be just what the doctor ordered. MacDonald (21-13) says Hutcherson’s camp turned down the fight when it was first offered, suggesting the American changed his mind because he thought the time was right to face MacDonald.

“If that’s the case for this fight, then he’s sadly mistaken,” MacDonald said. “I’ve dropped a few to tough competition but I’m still very much in the game and very much focused.”

The main event at the River Cree Resort and Casino in suburban Edmonton showcases former UFC middleweights Thales Leites (14-3) and Dean (The Boogeyman) Lister (11-6) in their MFC debuts.

The Leites-Lister winner will likely meet the MacDonald-Hutcherson victor for the MFC 185-pound title, which amazingly has been vacant since March 2006 when MacDonald was submitted by Patrick (The Predator) Cote in the fifth round at MFC 9. Cote moved to the UFC and the title was never filled.

MacDonald has fought 15 times since, 10 of which were in the UFC (where he went 5-5).

The successive losses to Gouveia and Quarry led to the pink slip for MacDonald, who makes no secret of his desire to return to the UFC or his belief that he is as good or better than many of the 185-pounders still there.

He acknowledges the UFC has been fairly consistent in axing fighters whose losses mount. But he says the fear of being cut may lead to fighters being less aggressive in the cage because they’re more concerned about getting the win than “just going out there and fighting the best fight they can fight and letting the cards fall where they may.”That’s the great thing for me in the MFC. I no longer have that pressure. I’m back fighting at home, and in an organization that I’m very comfortable in and where I got my start in fighting. For me, it’s just about going out there and fighting. I don’t feel any added pressure of winning or losing. I know that win or lose, I’m still going to be a fan favourite here in Alberta and here in the MFC.

“The important thing for me is to try to get my career back on track.”

MacDonald helped build the Maximum Fighting Championship, fighting at MFC 2 through 10, starting with his third pro fight back in November 2001.

The former Alberta corrections officer has suffered through poor streaks before. He lost four straight over a nine-month period in 2004-05 to name opposition in Matt Horwich, Jason Brilz, Marvin Eastman and Shonie Carter. He rebounded to win his next two before losing to Canadians Kalib Starnes and Cote. He followed those defeats with four straight wins to earn his UFC shot.

MacDonald spent two and a half weeks preparing for this fight at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, training with the likes of Mike Pyle, Martin Kampmann, Jay Hieron and Tyson Griffin.

“It’s the same old training but you have your choice of people to train with . . . whereas back at home here you’re left training with the same guys day in and day out and you’re not learning new tricks and new skills — and you’re not getting pushed as hard as you could be by guys like that.”

MacDonald also spent time at the Vegas gym prior to his October loss to Travis Lutter at MFC 22, his first fight since being cut by the UFC.

“Obviously the fight didn’t turn out the way I wanted to, but from a preparation standpoint, I felt well-prepared and in great shape so I chose to go back down there (to Vegas).”

His decision loss to Lutter was just two months ago but MacDonald says he has always done well on a quick turnaround. Plus he can erase the memory.

“The Lutter fight definitely was one that I’d like to put behind me as fast as possible.”

MacDonald was expecting Lutter to take the fight to the ground and slow it down, but wasn’t able to get his game going until the third round when he was in too deep a hole.

Hutcherson is a graduate of Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” where he was defeated by Rory Singer in his first bout. He comes out of a good camp in Milwaukee’s Duke Roufus.

“I expect that he’ll be well-prepared for this fight and every fighter’s dangerous but I know, I really feel that in every aspect of fighting I’m better than Solomon Hutcherson,” MacDonald said. “If the fight were to stay standing, I’m a better wrestler, I have better jiu-jitsu, I’ve more experience, I’ve faced tougher guys.”

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