Rory MacDonald’s coach Firas Zahabi weighs in on his student’s recent back and neck injury:
“He trains too hard. I tell him all the time,” said Zahabi. “I lecture him all the time: You’ve got to go slow and steady, and gradually increase the intensity closer to the fight. The body can only take so much.”
“And don’t forget, he started very young,” Zahabi added, alluding to MacDonald’s professional debut at the age of 16. “That’s one of the side effects of athletes that start when they’re young. They have a young body with a lot of miles.”
“Sometimes you’ve just got to learn the hard way, and I think Rory is starting to understand. I had a long talk with him, and I told him he has to respect his body and how his body feels,” Zahabi concluded, stating he wanted to see MacDonald make his return in a smart/safe way even if it meant an extended break from competition.
It’s slightly disconcerting to hear Firas talk about ‘a young body with a lot of miles.’ MacDonald is supposed to be the next great Canadian MMA fighter, but what happens if his body betrays him just as he’s about to reach the pinnacle of his career? There’s few things worse than back or neck issues, and Rory apparently has both. At least when you blow your knee out, modern medicine can get you back to roughly where you were before. With back injuries, you’re pretty much fucked. You never hear anyone say ‘My back was really messed up but now it’s great!’ It’s usually all downhill from there.
But maybe we’re just over-worrying. You have to understand – the next best Canadian fighter after GSP and Rory is TJ Grant. Meanwhile, the Brazilians are cleaning up and another Russian invasion seems imminent. Hell, even the British seem to be figuring out that wrestling voodoo. If we lose Rory, we’ll be stuck down in the toilet of international shame alongside Australia and Japan.
On the plus side, maybe an injury like this will remind Rory that he’s only got a limited time to make money and build a legacy. The fastest way to do that? Fighting Georges St Pierre.