Bellator 179 took place at the SSE Arena in London, England last night and featured the Bellator debut of Rory MacDonald. MacDonald is touted as the promotion’s biggest and most anticipated acquisition of the year. Bellator was able to sign “The Red King” when MacDonald’s UFC contract expired in August of 2016.
The road to the end of MacDonald’s UFC career began at UFC 189. MacDonald faced the then Champion Robbie Lawler in what is considered to be the most violent UFC brawl of all time. Both men met in the center of the Octagon to begin the fifth round, Lawler saw his opening. Lawler threw a devastating cross which crushed MacDonald’s already broken nose. MacDonald collapsed and Lawler secured his victory by TKO stoppage. While most fans thought this was just the end of one of many great title fight brawls Rory would offer in the UFC, it proved to be his last. Rory went on to fight the future Title Challenger Stephen Thompson and once again broke his nose. Not only did he break his nose, he lost the bout and completed his UFC contract all in one night.
It was time for Rory to reassess his career and heal. Rory even stated in interviews he may need a full year just to heal before accepting another bout. In the midst of negotiating a new contract, Rory’s wishes to take time off may not have been what the UFC wanted to hear. Maybe they thought he had taken too much damage, maybe they thought he wasn’t up to snuff. But whatever they thought, they thought wrong.
Bellator took full advantage of MacDonald’s free agent status. “There’s no denying that Rory MacDonald was the cream of the crop when it comes to free agents in MMA,” Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement. They quickly signed Rory to an exclusive multi-year multi-fight deal.
It seems the concerns about Rory’s health proved to be a non issue in his Bellator debut bout against Paul Daley. Rory ran through the Bellator contender with a brutal 10-8 first round followed by a rear naked choke victory in the second round. It appears that the Bellator Promotion has found it’s next big thing in the form of “The Red King”. Rory issued a warning to both the current Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, and title challenger Lorenz Larkin. Rory stated that he will “take your belt and your health”. Bellator may have a dominant champion on the horizon, and it’s time for us to just sit back and enjoy the show.