Fight previews tend to assess the qualities of the two men or women involved in an upcoming fight and then imagine what will happen when the two collide on a particular night. Taken into account are such intangibles as speed, power, strength, stamina, experience and so on. In the case of Friday’s welterweight clash between Rory MacDonald and Paul Daley, however, preview writers should also be conscious of the fact something else needs to be thrown into the mix.
Rory MacDonald’s nose.
Rather than a punch or a takedown or a submission move, Rory MacDonald’s nose is a threat not to Paul Daley but Rory MacDonald himself. Broken badly in a July 2015 fight against Robbie Lawler, and then a cause of discomfort thereafter, most notably during a fight with Stephen Thompson the following year, Rory MacDonald’s nose could yet have a crucial part to play at Wembley Arena in a matter of days.
“If he takes a full shot to the nose, his nose will break again, for sure,” Daley told Gareth A. Davies. “I fought a guy in cage rage called Jess Liaudin and we knew he had a broken nose. I got to the second round and hit him with an elbow on his nose. That nose broke again and they had to stop the fight. A nose is a very delicate thing. It needs sufficient time to heal.
“Even though he’s had however many months out, he’s still had to spar and train. It’s still a tender spot. I have that in the back of my head. It’s not my primary goal but I punch extremely hard when I choose to and if one of those punches lands on his nose I guarantee you his nose will break again, and then we’ll see how the fight shapes up after then. It could be very quick or he could show a bit of courage and last the fight out. It’s a delicate issue and it’s definitely something in my favour.”
MacDonald, of course, disputes this. He points to the fact he is preparing to fight Daley as proof the nose is now finally healed; it’s been almost a whole year since his last fight; he has learnt his lessons, albeit the hard way.
“I rushed back too soon after the war with Robbie,” he explained to Fighters Only. “I know it was eleven months later, but I kept bashing up the nose in training and I just never gave it the time it needed to repair. I ended up rushing into the fight with ‘Wonderboy’ and it got busted straight away and hampered my performance again. It was after that fight I made the decision to take a long break, put the last couple of years behind me and look for this fresh start with Bellator.
“Basically, I just gave it a lot of time. I took time off sparring and contact martial arts. I gave it the time it needed to fuse back together. After the Robbie Lawler fight, I was back in the gym sparring hard and breaking it in training. That’s why we saw it break again in the Thompson fight. I wasn’t a professional about it. I was hungry, I wanted to get back in there. But I’ve now taken the time I needed and it’s back 100%. It’s been tested in the gym. It’s not a worry for me.”
Whether the nose holds up or not remains to be seen. Daley, though, insists MacDonald’s newfound fragility is symptomatic of an even greater problem.
“He quit in the fight against Lawler,” says ‘Semtex’. “He talks about being a warrior and all this but he quit in a fight. Broken nose or not, if you’re a fighter, you do not quit. I’m not worried about anything Rory has to bring. He hasn’t fought me and that is it. I’ve fought guys who have never been knocked out and if you look at their records I am the guy who knocks them out.”