Number three-ranked UFC Welterweight Rory MacDonald has been on a roll as of late. He’s won five consecutive bouts in what may be the most challenging division in all of MMA.

However, you might not identify him as one of the best fighters in the world for a couple of reasons. One, he’s publicly stated that he simply won’t fight his good friend and training partner, UF Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. That automatically puts him in a sort of career limbo. He’s teased a possible move up to Middleweight, but is that really the best move considering the success he’s had at 170 pounds?

His only career loss came to a late stoppage at the hands of Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit in a fight that MacDonald would have most likely taken home on the judges’ scorecards. There’s no doubt that “Ares” is one of, if not the, most talented rising prospects at Welterweight. The time for his rise is looming.

The second reason MacDonald hasn’t been getting a ton of heat lately is his last performance. Although he clearly beat Jake Ellenberger in a one-sided affair at UFC on Fox 8 in July, MacDonald drew almost as much heat for the lackluster bout as Ellenberger did. Dana White criticized him for not taking enough chances to put a stamp on Ellenberger by finishing the fight.

And that may be true. Despite wins over Ellenberger and B.J. Penn in his last two bouts, MacDonald hasn’t shown much of the finishing ability that he was known for earlier in his career. That may be due in part to the unfortunate string of injuries that he’s been faced with recently, but the fact remains.

If he wants to make a strong case for a title shot, he’s going to have to finish some top name opponents in the Octagon.

That brings us to UFC 167 this weekend. MacDonald is matched up against a surging foe who is the definition of a finisher in Robbie Lawler. Lawler made a rousing re-debut in the UFC earlier this year by destroying both Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker via first round knockout. Despite that explosive power, MacDonald most likely has Lawler outdueled in every aspect of MMA save for one-punch knockout ability.

If MacDonald pulls off the win in Vegas, that will mark six straight victories including two over top ten-ranked opponents and one over a former divisional champ. It will be very hard to deny him a shot at UFC gold, although he may have to have his long-awaited rematch with Condit in order to get it.

But will he even take the bout if the chance arises? A finish over number ten Lawler will have many clamoring for MacDonald to put his friendship with GSP aside for the overall sake of his blossoming career. He most likely won’t, however.

So what should MacDonald do? Well, for one, he has to hope that GSP loses the belt to Johny Hendricks in the main event of UFC 167 this weekend. Two, he could see St. Pierre retire on top with nothing left to accomplish after defeating Hendricks, paving the way for MacDonald to rule the division. That has been rumored, after all.

The third option is his aforementioned move up to Middleweight. But with sharks like Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida swimming at the top of UFC 185-pound waters, is that really the best idea? Could he really beat Michael Bisping or Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza?

I’d say no, that MacDonald should keep his size and strength advantage by staying at Welterweight. Even if GSP continues to dominate for another year or two, MacDonald’s reign is almost inevitable at this point. What do you think “Ares” should do in this tough predicament?

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