How Rory MacDonald Stayed Struggle Match Throughout the Pandemic


Almost a 12 months since he introduced his signing with the Professional Fighters League, Rory MacDonald anticipated he’d be spending the autumn preparing for the MMA league’s semifinal spherical earlier than advancing to New 12 months’s Eve’s PFL Championships.

As an alternative, MacDonald stays indefinitely getting ready for his PFL debut.

The previous UFC and Bellator famous person was set to change into the PFL’s most recognizable face—in addition to the first goal of PFL welterweights—earlier than the league made its choice to postpone the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic. And regardless of no fights in sight for the PFL this 12 months, MacDonald continues to be holding out slight hope for a 2020 miracle.

“I hoped to get some type of an replace after summer season,” MacDonald says. “However I’m praying that I get a possibility on the finish of the 12 months. If not, it seems to be prefer it’s going to be an extended layoff.”

However whereas his battle schedule stays empty, MacDonald has stayed sharp by a mix of some old-school weight training, New Age visualization strategies, plus some inventive new twists to his routine—gymnastics—whereas staying battle prepared for when the PFL presumably begins its 2021 season.

“I’ve been coaching arduous throughout this whole quarantine,” MacDonald says. “I’ve used the layoff as a motivating issue to only get higher and be prepared for when that point comes.”


Together with defending PFL Ladies’s Light-weight Champion Kayla Harrison, who could make a case as the highest feminine fighter on this planet, MacDonald grew to become one of many PFL’s most recognizable stars the second he signed with the upstart MMA league in December, and rapidly stamped himself as the highest menace to take 2019 welterweight champion Ray Cooper’s belt.

“Rory is an elite expertise,” says PFL CEO Peter Murray. “He’s a high 10 welterweight with a championship pedigree and big-fight expertise. We’re [still] excited to see him compete in our difficult season format, in a stacked [welterweight] division. His signing is actually a sign to the market…the PFL is a spot it is best to critically think about.”

MacDonald hoped to broaden his MMA résumé already stacked with signature victories, most notably wins over former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Nate Diaz. His two epic Bellator battles wherein he break up with present welterweight champion Douglas Lima, made it probably the most effective rivalry in that group. As an alternative, COVID-19 pressured his coaching to be relegated at his absolutely geared up storage at his Montreal house.

Previous to any pandemic, MacDonald had already maintained a club-quality storage gymnasium, geared up with free weights, energy rack, treadmill and a motorcycle. He stated he added a couple of odds and ends to make the gymnasium full. “I used to be simply coaching from house on my own,” MacDonald says. “I made some little additions—I’d order off of Amazon and different locations, however I had a lot of the stuff.”

MacDonald may carry out most of his workout in his garage—squats, presses, treadmill runs have been the usual.

However for a fighter, even a former world champion, social distancing mandates introduced by coronavirus made it difficult for some time to duplicate sparring periods with actual people. MacDonald says for the primary few months, he improvised as finest he can, utilizing heavy baggage, floor and pound baggage. Step by step, MacDonald was in a position to reacquaint himself with coaches and teammates, whereas retaining it as secure as potential.

“It was a bit odd at first,” MacDonald admits. “At first I used to be simply coaching from house on my own. You needed to make changes, however we acquired by it.”

MacDonald additionally began including thoughts video games—actually—to assist fill some the sparring void the pandemic created. He credited visualization—enjoying battle eventualities and drills in your head on a near-continuous loop, until it interprets onto the ats. MacDonald says the thoughts strategies are a high quality addition to an athlete’s routine, and advises anybody from seasoned veterans white belts to place some thought into your routine.

“I believe the most effective instrument that not lots of people use make the most of is simply utilizing your creativeness once you’re in your downtime,” MacDonald admits. “Visualizing transfer strategies throughout a battle might help you set issues collectively. It helps you change into extra coordinated once you put it into apply.”


MacDonald was ready to make use of the downtime to include gymnastics coaching to his arsenal. He credit his kickboxing coach for turning him on to this full-body-weight energy and stability staple, however on the similar time, gymnastics coaching grew to become popularized amongst MMA athletes from one other of his mentors, fellow Canadian and UFC legend Georges St. Pierre.

Gymnastics rings together with a wide range of resistance bands and calisthenics tools have been among the quarantine additions to MacDonald’s house gymnasium. Together with shaking up his exercises, MacDonald says including ring dips, inverted rows and different ring-based actions left his physique shaking the primary few occasions he tried. Nonetheless, MacDonald says incorporating a lot of these body-weight strikes have him feeling stronger immediately than he did throughout his final battle final October.

“I began doing gymnastics simply because I felt like it will be enjoyable to attempt one thing new, however on the similar time, it has additionally strengthened my muscle groups and improved my coordination.”

Attempt outmuscling the unstable forces that include rings and also you’ll be rapidly humbled and hurting, and MacDonald was no completely different at first, particularly his first crack at an L-Sit, an agonizing full-body energy transfer, incorporating arms, core and legs. “I couldn’t do it at first,” MacDonald admits. “I used to be like, I acquired to coach at this to get higher.”

He says his progress got here in small increments, first beginning along with his legs tucked in, extra resemblant of an H sit than an L. Slowly over time, MacDonald says he was in a position to lengthen his legs extra till mastered the transfer, creating an L a couple of days later.

I wouldn’t say I mastered it,” MacDonald says. “however I used to be in a position to do it.”



  • Hamstring Stretch
  • Physique-weight Squat: 30 reps
  • Pushup: 20 reps
  • Pullup:10 reps
  • Hip Mobility Drill
  • Dip: 10 reps
  • Plank: 60 sec.
  • Reverse Plank: 60 sec.

5 Units Of:

  • Single-leg Pistol Squat: 10 reps
  • Inverted Row (w/rings): 6 reps
  • Deep Pushup (w/rings): 10 reps
  • Dips (w/rings): 5 reps
  • Hanging L-sit holds: 5 seconds:
    superset with
  • Pullup (w/rings): 5 reps
  • Reverse Lunge: 6 reps

Heavy bag work

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