The parallels between Rory MacDonald and Georges St. Pierre are obvious.
Both are Canadian. Both are UFC welterweights. They even train together.
But there's one big difference. MacDonald, who dominated Mike Pyle at UFC 133 Saturday in Philadelphia, is coming into his own in 2011. St. Pierre was doing the same thing in 2004.
GSP blazed the trail. MacDonald only has to follow it.
Now, that's not easy. The 22-year-old from British Columbia may be 12-1 as a pro, but he's a long way from the top of the welterweight division. But his skills have improved each time out, and the potential certainly seems to be there.
Ultimately, can he be as good as St. Pierre? Absolutely. The reason? Georges St. Pierre.
The two are close friends. And St. Pierre is the best game-planner -- and one of the most cerebral fighters -- in the UFC. He's lost just twice in his career, and both were a result of mental mistakes: looking up to Matt Hughes, and looking past Matt Serra.
MacDonald clearly sports the same kind of talent a younger GSP had. But he also has St. Pierre's experience -- at least second-hand. That steadying influence (MacDonald calls GSP a "mentor") is going to go a long way toward his development. In the end, there's no reason MacDonald can't be every bit the fighter his friend is. He'll be told over and over again never to look at an opponent as an icon or a pushover; St. Pierre knows that from experience. And there's every reason to believe he'll pass his expertise on.
All that, of course, is a long way from saying MacDonald is "the next St. Pierre." He's not. He's a polite Canadian kid -- the second-line left winger on every QMJHL team. He's smart, but quiet. Confident, but not cocky.
He'll be a star, not an icon.
GSP? He's magnetic -- an Armani model bursting into a world of white tank tops. He's hip-hop West meets kung fu East; as much a cultural touchstone as a fighting champion.
"As far as people saying I could be greater than him or I have the
potential of him, I take that as a compliment, but I'll never be
Georges," MacDonald said after UFC 133. "I'm Rory MacDonald. I'm going to do my thing, do it the way I
want to do it, and fight new guys, do new things."
He's right. And that's the beauty of it. The kid doesn't need to be Georges St. Pierre; GSP already is. And because of that, Rory MacDonald is going to reach even greater heights.