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Rory MacDonald hasn’t been completely satisfied with his switch to Bellator from the UFC, but he said he’s remaining optimistic about a brighter future with his new home.
MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), a former UFC welterweight title challenger, signed with Bellator as a free agent in August 2016. He made his intentions immediately known and expressed a desire to stay active and chase belts in not just one – but multiple weight classes.
The Canadian admitted things haven’t progressed quite as quickly as he’d expected since signing with Bellator. After recovering from some lingering injuries, he finally made his promotional debut in May with a second-round submission win over Paul Daley at Bellator 179.
Although the victory positioned MacDonald as the next to challenge Bellator welterweight titleholder Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA), he must wait until Jan. 20 to fight in the Spike-televised headliner at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
For MacDonald, there’s simply been too much waiting around.
“I’ve expressed my disappointment with Bellator,” MacDonald told MMAjunkie. “I had some conversations with (Bellator President) Scott Coker expressing that. I’m not the type of fighter that needs to be sidelined and fight once a year. I need to be kept busy. I think he knows now. I think he wants to improve on that in 2018 and keep me more busy. I’m waiting. We’ll see. I hope that I’ll get at least three fights in during 2018.”
Although MacDonald understands of the complexities of fight promotion – bout agreements, dates, locations – his expectation upon signing with Bellator was slightly different from what’s played out.
MacDonald said he’s not disgruntled to the point of regretting leaving the UFC after 13 octagon appearances. However, he hopes things improve. One thing that could do that, he said, is seeing Bellator host a fight card in his native Canada sooner than later.
Originally, “The Red King” thought his fight with Lima would take place somewhere in Canada. Now he said he hopes to make his first defense of the title in his homeland should he emerge victorious against Lima.
“It’s been a slow process with Bellator,” MacDonald said. “I think their organization is – they’re a little bit scattered. It’s a small staff, and things like that. But they’re doing the best they can. I’m sure 2018 we’ll get that ball rolling. Once I’m the champion, I think that creates more excitement going into Canada, going in as the champion. It’s more meaningful to promote a fight up there having a Canadian champion. We’ll see what happens.”
With the encounter against Lima still several months away, MacDonald has plenty of time to sharpen his skill set and prepare for one of the biggest fights of his career. Ensuring he doesn’t overtrain is key with the fight still so far away, but assuming he comes in on point, MacDonald has big expectations.
“I see it going probably one or two rounds, maybe three,” MacDonald said. “I don’t see it going four or five rounds. I’m going to close the show before then.”