Despite “Radar” Issues, Jason MacDonald Excited to be Fighting Alan Belcher
By Kelsey Mowatt
After making a successful return at UFC 129 in April, by quickly tapping out Ryan Jensen with a first round triangle-choke, Jason MacDonald began surveying the middleweight landscape to see who he might face next. Due to the fact that MacDonald had worked his way back to the Octagon just last year, only to break his leg while facing John Salter at UFC 113, the veteran apparently didn’t see his next fight coming when it was offered.
“Alan wasn’t someone who was on my radar,” MacDonald told FCF, when asked for his reaction upon being offered a September 17th bout with contender Alan Belcher. “To be honest it caught me a little off guard. Prior to his eye injury he was considered one of the top contenders; he was scheduled to fight (Demian) Maia and if all had gone well he wouldn’t have been far from a title shot.”
Indeed, before Belcher incurred the eye injury that has sidelined him for over one year, the middleweight put together a run which included wins over Denis Kang, Wilson Gouveia and most recently Patrick Cote. Belcher’s only loss in five UFC fights was a tightly contested and controversial split decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama in July, 2009.
“I heard him talking about he only wanted a fight that would get him into that number one contention spot,” MacDonald added, whose aforementioned win over Jensen was his first Octagon victory since 2008. “I thought they would throw someone like (Aaron) Simpson at me next, or somebody like that, Court McGee, so I was a little surprised when they gave me Belcher.”
Of course, with fighting Belcher comes an opportunity for MacDonald to re-establish his presence in the middleweight division. It wasn’t that long ago when the Red Deer fighter was facing the likes of Maia, Yushin Okami and Rich Franklin, due MacDonald’s wins over Ed Herman, Chris Leben, Joe Doerksen and others.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said MacDonald (25-14). “I want to go in there and upset a guy who’s been considered a top contender. It would throw me right back into the mix of things with a win over him.”
“My job’s to fight,” MacDonald added. “I’m later in my career so I’m looking for challenges and good fights; I’m not looking for pay days…At times we’ve seen Alan look really, really good, and at other times we’ve seen him get upset by guys who stylistically were a bad match-up for him. Jay Day (Jason Day) went in there and upset him.”
The September 17th bout, which will take place on a Fight Night card in New Orleans, will be widely viewed as a striker versus grappler match-up, due to Belcher’s noted striking skills and MacDonald’s highly regarding jiu-jitsu.
“I think guys that are going to stand and bang with him are tailor made for him,” MacDonald said about the Duke Roufus trained fighter. “He’s a fantastic Muay Thai fighter and obviously I’m not going to stand there and engage Alan in a kickboxing match.”
Like any top level fighter, however, Belcher has worked hard on his grappling abilities and has taken issue with people in the past who have been quick to overlook his ground game.
“I’ve never seen a lot of Alan on the ground,” said MacDonald when asked to assess the ground skills of his opponent. “If you look at fighters you can kind of pin point where their comfort zone is. It’s pretty apparent that Alan is comfortable standing up and engaging in a Muay Thai fight, and it’s pretty apparent that I’m more comfortable in the clinch, working on the ground. It’s not a secret.”
“I would venture to say that Alan has a pretty decent ground game,” MacDonald added. “I’m not underestimating his ground game; every fight starts standing so I’m not just preparing to go in there and take Alan immediately to the ground. That’s what I’d like to do but unfortunately things don’t always go the way you want them to.”