Rory MacDonald’s opportunity to make a run at the UFC welterweight title seems to be at hand. It’s been more than three years since his lone pro-circuit loss to Carlos Condit (he’s won his other 14 bouts), and he’s currently the youngest fighter to crack the top 10 in the welterweight division, according to both MMA Weekly and the Sherdog rankings. As of press time, the 24-year-old MacDonald was preparing for his shot at veteran Jake Ellenberger, who’s gritted his way through several more fights than the youngster. But MacDonald is far from green. Although he uses his youth—and the boundless energy that comes with it— to his advantage, he also brings deep dedication, focus, and poise to his training. “I want to be the champion within a year,” he says. “If I can maintain my pace of training and improvement, get the right fights, and keep winning, I might be able to get there.”

Far From Comfort Zone

MacDonald usually trains by performing a pair of intense two-hour sessions six days a week, honing his skills in boxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and kickboxing, and doing plenty of strength and conditioning. He claims to be well versed in every aspect of mixed martial arts, saying he doesn’t have any particular weakness, which gives him the opportunity to dictate how the fight plays out. For cardio outside the Octagon, he uses resistance paddles and bikes to keep his heart in tip-top shape, and stays as far away from comfort zones as he can.

“The key is to always be changing,” says MacDonald. “My strength and conditioning coach, Jon Chaimberg, is all about switching things up so I can continue growing as an athlete. You have to get creative after a while or you won’t get much stronger or faster.”

Rory’s Workout

■ Box Jump 3×5
■ Rotational Med Ball Side Toss 3×8 each

■ Chinup/Med Ball Slam 4×5
■ Walking Lunges/DB/KB Front Squat 4×6
■ TRX Jackknife Push-away 4×10
■ Half-kneeling Alternate 1-arm Overhead DB Press 4×6 (each side)
■ Single-leg Deadlift 4×6 (each side)

■ Heavy Sled Push* 6×20 yds
■ Light Sled Push* 6×20 yds

*1 push every minute