by Matt Hill
Here’s a question…

What two things do Ed Herman, Chris Leben and Rory Singer have in common?

Think about it for a second…

If you said that they were each on the hit Spike TV show, The Ultimate Fighter, you’d be right. But, there is something else… have you guessed it yet?

The second thing these three men have in common is that they each have Ultimate Fighting Championship losses on their record thanks to ‘The Athlete’ Jason MacDonald.

MacDonald is a talented Canadian fighter who burst onto the UFC scene in his Octagon debut by finishing Ed Herman, a Team Quest fighter from Oregon, with a triangle choke in the first round.

So often much is made about fighters’ nerves getting the best of them when they hit the “big show” for the first time, but MacDonald broke the mold by making his first UFC entrance look second-natured.

After his victory against Herman, he then beat Herman’s Team Quest teammate Chris Leben in Las Vegas last December by modified guillotine choke, before failing to answer the bell for the third round in his next fight against former UFC champ Rich Franklin in Columbus, Ohio, this past March.

MacDonald’s most recent outing pitted him against HardCore Gym-trained fighter Rory Singer. He overwhelmed the Georgia native and finished Singer off with strikes at the 3:18 mark of round two. The win kept him on track for a possible UFC title shot against either Rich Franklin or current middleweight champion Anderson Silva, depending on which man walks away with the title on Oct. 20.

The same night that the aforementioned middleweight title is up for grabs, MacDonald steps into the Octagon as well. Not for a belt just yet, but instead to compete against powerful Japanese fighter Yushin Okami. It is a fight that has obvious title implications for the victor.

Both Okami and MacDonald are tall, strong middleweights, but opponents of Okami have reiterated afterwards that his power in the cage seems to throw each of them off of their original game plans.

MacDonald knows that one of his opponent’s foremost strengths lies in his power and he trained accordingly, filling a good portion of his time during training camp competing with big, powerful guys.

“I don’t see (size) being a huge issue in this fight because I think a lot of people consider me to be a pretty big middleweight as well,” he told MMAWeekly. “I started training camp around 209-212 pounds, so I don’t think it’s going to be a huge factor in the fight. But you don’t want to leave any rock unturned, so I went down there to train with some big guys just to make sure that I was prepared come Oct. 20 to deal with some big, strong guys.”

If MacDonald does manage a victory against Okami, it seems that from a fan’s point of view, he would be either next in line or pretty darn close to the front of the line for a shot at the title. He seems to agree with that contention.

“The way the middleweight division stands right now, there just aren’t a lot of contenders. I definitely consider myself one of the contenders. I do have a loss to Rich Franklin back in March and I learned a lot from that loss. I came back with a win over [Rory] Singer. I’m looking to get in there and get another big win over Okami and put myself back in a position where I maybe get a shot at the title sometime this year.”

Anyone who has watched Okami fight knows that he likes to keep a pretty slow pace during his fights… sometimes to his favor, and sometimes to his demise. But many people wonder if the tempo of his fights directly relates to the quality of his cardio.

When asked about it, MacDonald said, “You hit the nail on the head there.

“I feel like if I can push the pace really fast on Okami, I have a feeling that I can break him down in those first two rounds and not ever have to worry about him coming alive in that third round.”

Not necessarily a bad game plan seeing how the fight went when Okami stepped into the cage with Mike Swick.

“You watch the Swick fight … he had Mike Swick outweighed by 20-some pounds. Mike said that he got into the ring at about 183 or 182 pounds, and Okami was definitely well over 200 and even in that fight you see that fatigue was a big factor. You see in that fight Okami had him mounted and just looked too tired to finish him off.”

Jason realizes that his last performance in Ohio left his fans wanting more and this time he’s ready to provide a different outcome.

“I was very disappointed in my performance against Rich and I’m definitely looking to come back to Ohio and break the curse and put on a great show for the fans of Ohio,” Jason said.

So how does ‘The Athlete’ feel this fight will go down in the end?

“I’m not sure that he can fight at the pace that I’m going to push in these first two rounds … at least I’m hoping that he’s not going to be able to fight at that pace. If he is, then we’ve got a fight on our hands, but if he can’t then I see me just wearing him out and taking him to the deep end and then making him make a mistake … and then I’ll be ready to capitalize on it,” Jason said.