Canada's first hope for its third UFC champion fell flat on Saturday night.
Not unlike 25-year-old contender Rory “Red King” MacDonald himself did early in the fifth round after a hard left jab from reigning welterweight champ Robbie Lawler that shattered his nose and ended a hard-fought battle the Quesnel, B.C. native seemed to be in charge of after dominating the previous three rounds.
While most mixed martial arts fans were choked to hear the much-hyped main event at UFC 189 between featherweights José Aldo and Conor McGregor had been called off due to the reigning champ having (allegedly) broken a rib in practice, most Canadians MMA fans were much more interested in the fight offering the country's first shot at having a homegrown champion since Georges St. Pierre had his proverbial walk in the snow and decided to give up his belt without a fight.
Just as they were last year when his fight versus Tyron Woodley was the de facto main event of UFC 174 held at Rogers Arena rather than the title bout between Mighty Mouse and Ali Bagautinov..
But hoser bloodsport enthusiasts may have to wait a while for the next one seeing as how MacDonald fought Lawler and, well, Lawler won. Just like he did in a split decision between the two at UFC 167 nearly two years ago.
It was probably premature for MacDonald -- who first began beating up grown men for money at age 16 and whose pro record is now 18-3 -- to start calling himself "the Red King" before actually winning a belt. MacDonald recently gave up his erstwhile nom de guerre Ares after discovering his first name is an Anglicised version of the Gaelic name Ruaidhrí ("red king"), the name of medieval rulers Ruaidrí na Saide Buide and Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. Although it certainly sounds more badass than "son of of Dòmhnall," which is the literal translation of his surname.
There's also the problem of it making most people think of the Red Queen's husband from Alice in Wonderland.
After two cautious, chess-like rounds, MacDonald appeared to take control of the rematch despite his face being far more bloodied than that of the 33-year-old champ, who was making his first title defense since first taking the belt from Johnny Hendricks eight months ago. Flying knees had already decided two main event fights held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and nearly did yet again the end of the third round.
But Lawler was able to hang on, dropping the Great White North's great white hope with a TKO that effectively has the county's dreams on ice for the forseeable future.