Rory MacDonald's title challenge against welterweight champ Robbie Lawler a year ago is already the stuff of legend. The two warriors battled round after round.
Before MacDonald's body ultimately shut down and he lost via TKO, he nearly stopped Lawler himself with strikes. The fight undoubtedly changed both men forever.
It wasn't all bad, however, for MacDonald. The Canadian star says that ever since that horrifyingly beautiful fight he's become a different beast. "I've been hungry ever since the fight. I was in sparring a couple of months after, and I was feeling real hungry and motivated," he recently said.
"If it wasn't for a broken nose I'd have been back early. I was ready to go."
MacDonald is a patient, technical fighter. Against Lawler he also used and showed a grit and internal fortitude that few have.
"I feel [the fight with Lawler] made me more animalistic -- made me more hungry to be a fighter, to train like one, to be a beast," he continued.
"I feel different -- I feel better."
On Saturday, MacDonald takes his spirit with him into the cage once more, this time against fellow top contender Stephen Thompson. The two have trained together before, but "The Red King" won't let that stand in the way of doing his violent work.
"We're friendly, we've been friendly for years. But we're also competitors," he explained.
"Right now that takes precedent. We are friendly outside the fight, but I'm here to knock him out. He's my opponent, I'm here to do business."