by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Jason MacDonald is making his return to the cage at UFC 87 on Saturday night to take on Demian Maia.

MacDonald has had an up and down career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship since his debut back in October of 2006. He burst into the middleweight division to be Ed Herman’s first test out from his season of The Ultimate Fighter. MacDonald shocked fans by submitting Herman via triangle choke.

In his next fight, he took on Chris Leben. He may have been considered a stepping-stone, but MacDonald had other plans submitting Leben in the second round.

MacDonald’s biggest fight to date was up next as he took on the former middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Franklin proved to be a little too much for the Canadian. Since that fight, MacDonald won against Rory Singer, lost to top middleweight contender Yushin Okami and most recently defeated Joe Doerksen.

MacDonald is now looking to establish himself as a top contender in the middleweight division. Maia has had an impressive start to his UFC career submitting his first two opponents. MacDonald figured that they would be on a collision course sooner or later.

“I kind of in the back of my mind thought that this would be the fight that they would match up just because Demian has been doing well in the UFC, getting a couple of wins,” said MacDonald. “People have been touting him as the new up and comer and I feel like I’ve been doing well and I’m kind of one of the guys at the top of the division and I kind of thought that we were on a crash course. Either him and I or Michael Bisping and I, those are the kind of match ups that I’m looking for.”

Maia is one of the most talented jiu-jitsu practitioners in the division and MacDonald is looking to stay away from his strength. “I’m not going to sit on here and kid everybody and say I’m a better grappler than Demian Maia. I certainly feel that my whole mixed martial arts game is better than Demian’s is. He’s still relatively new in the sport. He only had about eight fights. He hasn’t really fought any top competition and I just feel like those are some huge advantages I hold over him.

“We’ve been in training to avoid those bad situations and if we are in those bad situations to be patient and take our time getting out of it. My overall mixed martial arts game I feel is better than his and I faced top level competition. Those are two of the biggest differences in this fight.”

However, the Edmonton native does have an excellent ground game and isn’t necessarily scared to go to the ground with Maia. He just wants to fight where Maia would feel weakest. “I’m not afraid to take this fight to the ground,” said a confident MacDonald. “I’m just aware that if I take the fight to ground, he always has that threat to submit you. I have confidence in my ground game. I think I’ll be well prepared for this fight on the ground if it goes there. I’m going to try to fight him where I think he is the weakest which is the clinch and if the fight goes to the ground, so be it. I won’t be looking to take it there right away.”

Obviously, MacDonald thinks the stand up game is where Maia would be at his biggest disadvantage. “I think it’s a great fight for me standing. I think I’m bigger and stronger than Demian. I’m going to use my length. Just take the fight as it comes to me. It’s hard to really plan out the fight step-by-step. It’s a mixed martial arts fight. You never know what you’re going to get. I’m definitely looking to use my length to my advantage. I’m certainly not scared to throw the big punches or the big knee in fear of him taking me down.

“Everyone is great till they get punched in the face and then the whole dynamic of the fight changes,” continued MacDonald. “In a lot of my fights I’ve won by submission, but I used my ground and pound to set up the submission. In the Doerksen fight, I was able to finish that fight with ground and pound and I really feel like my standup is better than I’ve been able to show in the UFC. Up until now, I haven’t had a chance to showcase my standup skills. I think with Demian Maia this will be the time for me to show them the skills that I haven’t been able to show until now.”

Maia has gained some rapport with the fans and may be touted as the next possible contender in the middleweight division with a win over MacDonald. As most people found out in his previous bouts, MacDonald has proven to be nobody’s stepping stone.

“I’ve said it in my first fight and I’ll say it again. Don’t ever bring me in as someone’s stepping stone. I’m not going to be anyone’s stepping stone. At this point in my career and at this age, how long I’ve fought to be in the UFC, don’t bring me in to be somebody’s stepping-stone. I want people to see that I’m here for the long run to solidify myself as one of the top middleweights.”

If MacDonald pulls off another victory, he could be on the short track to a title shot. With Anderson Silva fighting Patrick Cote in October and Yushin Okami out with a broken hand, it could be possible that MacDonald could get a shot at the title with one or two more wins.

“In the division right now, I couldn’t be in any better position. I put together another exciting, solid win against Demian Maia and I have to be considered one of the front runners for a title shot based on the demographics of the division. There’s not a lot of guys out there that have three or four quality wins and step up to fight Anderson. With another quality win, I have to be right up there.”