Georges St-Pierres departure from the welterweight scene, temporary or otherwise, changed the playing field for everyone in the UFCs 170-pound weight class. . None more so than Rory (Ares) MacDonald. The 24-year-old can finally chase the title unencumbered. MacDonald, ranked No. 2 among welterweight contenders, trains at the same Montreal gym as the former UFC champion. St-Pierre has been one of his mentors. They share coaches and training partners. As MacDonald rose up the rankings, he and St-Pierre were constantly asked about whether the allies would ever fight. "It was pretty much any interview I did," said MacDonald. Now the landscape ahead is clear. "I feel like Im on my own path now," he said in an interview this week at Quebec City, where he was making appearances for the UFC around "The Ultimate Fighter Nations" finale card. "As much as I didnt think it was bothering me at the time, it was. Its a distraction, its always something in the back of your head. I never wanted any drama there, anything like that but at the same time I wanted what I wanted -- the (championship) belt. "So right now, the way it all worked out, I feel a lot less stress about it. I just feel like Im having fun, enjoying my time." MacDonald returns to his home province June 14 to face No. 3 Tyron (The Chosen One) Woodley in the co-main event at UFC 174 in Vancouvers Rogers Arena. The 32-year-old Woodley, an explosive former two-time All American wrestler from the University of Missouri, went 8-1 in Strikeforce before moving into the UFC. He opened his UFC account with a 36-second knockout of Jay Hieron. After a split-decision loss to Jake Shields, he bounced back with wins over Josh Koscheck and Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit. The winner between MacDonald (16-2) and Woodley (13-2) will likely get a title shot at Johny Hendricks, who is recovering from bicep surgery and a fractured shin following his championship win over (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 in March. MacDonald said he is happy to fight again before a possible title shot. "I wanted to. I didnt want to sit on the sidelines anyway," he said. "I think me against Tyron is a great matchup for a No. 1 contender shot. Weve both had good wins and good showings in our UFC careers." MacDonald watched the Hendricks-Lawler title fight from Hawaii where he was vacationing with his father and brother. He saw it as a close contest that came down to the fifth round. "I was really pulling for Lawler because I fought him in the past and have a lot of respect for the guys I fight," MacDonald said. "Obviously I was excited to see him do that well. "I just think Hendricks was the better man in the very end of the fight. He pushed it. He pushed through being tired, being hurt. Thats what a champion does. .. He finished hard, he won that last round. And thats what won him the fight in my opinion." MacDonald lost a split decision to Lawler at UFC 167 last November, when GSP won a controversial split decision over Hendricks. MacDonald admits there was a time before the Lawler bout when he did not enjoying fighting. "I had a lot of injuries I was battling through," he said. "It weighs on you." Looking back, he says he probably should have pulled out. "They (the injuries) were pretty serious. But I was sick of doing that," he said. "I was sick of getting injured before a fight, pulling out. I think fans were really annoyed with me doing that. I just had to fight through that." His only other loss was to Condit in June 2010 -- a TKO with seven seconds remaining -- at UFC 115 in Vancouver. It was MacDonalds second fight in the UFC and the adrenalin was pumping. He dominated the early going but the veteran Condit rallied in the final round. His first fight was a small televised event in January 2010 in Fairfax, Va., where Macdonald submitted Mike Guymon in four minutes 27 seconds. The frenzy of the Condit fight -- and audience -- took MacDonald by surprise. "People were going insane," MacDonald recalled in an earlier interview. "I never heard that level of noise in a building ... I was super-shocked and it just got me fired up to a point where it was, like, bad. If you watch that fight you could see the intensity that I was bringing and I dont think that was my style. And I paid for it." The loss was humiliating for MacDonald. "Because I was just laying there getting beaten on," he told reporters after his December 2012 win over B.J. Penn in Seattle. "My face looked like I was a guy from The Goonies after. I was embarrassed, I was embarrassed about my performance and how I held myself. It did a lot of damage and I dont think Ive been the same person since." The loss changed MacDonald. He moved from Kelowna, B.C., to Montreal in the aftermath to train with coach Firas Zahabi, St-Pierre and other elite fighters at the Tristar Gym. He also focused on fighting without emotion, reasoning that it contributed to the loss in Vancouver. MacDonald was slated to meet Condit again at UFC 158 in March 2013 but had to pull out due to injury. Hendricks stepped in and won, setting up his title shot against St-Pierre. MacDonald, meanwhile, rebounded from the Lawler loss with a unanimous decision over Brazilian submission ace Demian Maia at UFC 170 in February. Talk to MacDonald these days and you notice how big he is. The six-footer may fight at 170 pounds but its a weight he serves only occasionally. He walks around at 200 pounds. "Im big right now. Im not dieting but Im in shape," he said. MacDonald was just 14 when he started training in MMA. Born in Quesnel, B.C., MacDonald started training with David Lea in Kelowna. He had his first pro fight at age 16 in Prince George, because it was the only place to let him fight. Even then, his parents had to give their approval. He won the King of the Cage Canadian lightweight title at 18 -- in his sixth fight -- and the King of the Cage world 155-pound title in his next outing a year later. MacDonald became the UFCs youngest fighter when he signed on at 20 in the fall of 2009. Years later, he is comfortable in his own skin and happy with his fighting career. And while he is in a sport that often rewards self-promoters, MacDonald does things his own way. "Im not here to talk," he said. "Im not a great promoter but I believe I am one of the best fighters in the world. And Im going to be the best fighter in the world eventually. And I think people are going to appreciate what I bring to the cage." . Louis Blues, having added Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from Buffalo, remain the No. . The game got off to a less-than-ideal start for the Jets as Oliver Ekman-Larsson found a wide open net from the slot and opened the scoring for the Coyotes a lead in the first period, but Olli Jokinen answered back just over half a minute later.LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery has a short list of candidates he expects to be available with the 14th pick in next weeks draft. Six players, to be precise. "Id be happy that two out of the six were on the board at our pick, and Id be ecstatic if three out of the six were on the board at our pick," Emery said Thursday. The Bears went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, hurt by a defence that ranked among the leagues worst. Emery has spent the off-season overhauling that group, bringing in Jared Allen and parting ways with Julius Peppers. The makeover figures to continue in the draft even though Emery would not rule out going with an offensive player at No. 14. The most obvious holes, though, are on defence. The Bears still could use help on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Assuming they go with a defensive player — and assuming they keep the pick — the options at 14 could include Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Alabama free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Dropping back a few spots could give the Bears more selections, and Emery said he has been fielding calls from teams looking to move up. "Just say in theory you go down six picks," Emery said. "That means you have to count your pick youre giving up is one, and if youre going to pick six picks later, you have to have six players on the board that have that graded value that youre comfortable taking. ... So if you dont have that number of players you feel good about you shouldnt trade." Emery also indicated that trading up is unlikely. "Trade ups are expensive, obviously, and you just have to feel like that that player youre trading up for makes a dynamic difference in your team," he said. The Bears have already made plenty of noise this season. They made a huge splash when they signed Allen, hoping the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end energizes a defence thaat ranked 30th overall and last against the run. . He had 11 1/2 sacks last season, his seventh straight in double figures, and is a solid run defender. The Bears also added defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young along with safeties Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings. They brought back cornerback Charles Tillman on a one-year deal, re-signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff to a two-year contract and split with safety Major Wright. There have been some big moves. But there are still some big questions. The starting safety spots are up for grabs after Wright and Chris Conte struggled last season. Emery called it "a wide-open competition, best player wins." Wright signed with Tampa Bay in the off-season. Conte had shoulder surgery in late March and could start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, although Emery expects him to be ready for the first preseason game. Emery also said hes "absolutely" comfortable with Jordan Palmer backing up Jay Cutler at quarterback, with Josh McCown now in Tampa Bay. And he made that clear when the team started off-season workouts last month. "Same thing I told Josh: Glad youre here, looking forward to your contributions and were counting on you," Emery said. "And Jordan, since the time that he came last year has been nothing but a positive." Emery also reiterated the teams long-held desire not to be documented on HBOs "Hard Knocks," although he acknowledged the decision is not the organizations. He cited the franchises history, fan base and interest as reasons to look elsewhere. "I think theres a number of teams that dont have as much attraction, have as big a base for whatever reasons — their population or their history," he said. "Obviously, this is a tremendous, historic franchise. I think there will probably be other places that could benefit from it other than the Chicago Bears. Hows that for an answer?" ' ' '