Gegard Mousasi's Bellator plan: Shlemenko, title, MacDonald, light heavyweight – then retire?

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Gegard Mousasi sees endless possibilities for his Bellator career, but he knows it all starts with getting an impressive victory in his promotional debut next week at Bellator 185.

Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) signed with Bellator in July after a four-year run in the UFC. He said he’s excited about having more “freedom” with the rival organization, and it all starts with a middleweight main event against ex-champ Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA) at Bellator 185, which takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

If he emerges victorious, Mousasi said he’s been promised the next title shot – against the winner of December’s Bellator 190 headliner between current 185-pound champ Rafael Carvalho (14-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) and No. 1 contender Alessio Sakara (19-11 MMA, 2-0 BMMA). Mousasi’s primary goal is to add the Bellator title to a mantel that currently includes Strikeforce and DREAM gold, but he also believes that could be just the beginning.

Mousasi, No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, wants big-name fights, and he’s willing to welcome the likes of Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) into his weight class or even make a return to light heavyweight to get them.

“For me there are a lot of options,” Mousasi told MMAjunkie. “I have to beat Shlemenko first, then the title fight, then maybe a matchup against Rory MacDonald, and then maybe light heavyweight. In light heavyweight, you have ‘King Mo’ (Lawal); you have Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, ‘Rampage’ Jackson – all big names. Plenty of names I can fight and make exciting fights.”

At 32 Mousasi said he’s not yet thinking about retirement, but with a six-fight, 28-month contract with Bellator, he knows he could be one of the last contracts – if not the not last – of his career. Mousasi is currently on a five-fight winning streak, though, and said until he sees declining results, there’s no reason to consider walking away.

“As a fighter I feel like I’m not near the end of my career because I’m still winning,” Mousasi said. “But after six fights, I will probably be around 34 or 35. I think that’s a good age to retire, but I’m not thinking about that too much. I want to see what the results of the fights are going to be. If I keep losing, then of course it doesn’t make sense to continue. If I keep winning, I will keep continuing for maybe another three fights and then see again after that.”

Although Mousasi has great aspirations for what can be done over his six-fight Bellator deal, he said he’s not overlooking the task at hand. Shlemenko is one of the very few relevant opponents Mousasi can face in MMA who actually has more fights than him (65 to 50), and for that reason alone, he can’t be underestimated.

Some other UFC crossovers have struggled with the transition to Bellator, and Mousasi said he feels some responsibility to not only beat Shlemenko, but do so impressively.

“I feel like I should bee able to finish him in two rounds,” Mousasi said. “I’m too fast. Physically I’m bigger and stronger. I have the reach. I have the advantage in the stand-up and on the ground and in wrestling. Everything is to my advantage. The only thing I have to worry about is spinning back kicks, elbows and stuff like that. He’s tough and comes to fight, but I feel like he’s too aggressive. He makes a lot of mistakes. He comes to fight, and that’s why he makes a lot of mistakes, because he wants to brawl. I will land my shots.”

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: UFC's decision to sideline Mark Hunt against his will is a tricky one

If you make your struggle with the effects of brain trauma public, how surprised can you be when a promoter won’t let you fight? But if the promoter won’t let you fight, what do you get to do?

Plus, what’s the fight of the year so far in 2017? And does the UFC flyweight champ need to jump up a division now?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

I’m torn on this. On one hand, you want the UFC to be proactive about fighter health and safety. If a fighter tells us that he’s slurring his words and struggling with short-term memory – both major red flags – you don’t want to put that person in a cage to fight for money.

On the other hand, Mark Hunt is currently suing the UFC for what he alleges is a failure to look out for fighter health and safety, so we can’t ignore the context of this move by the UFC.

It’s also worth asking if the UFC just set a precedent that it’s not willing to stick to. Georges St-Pierre has also described issues with his memory (which he attributed to possible alien activity, which is not necessarily any less concerning), but he was never pulled from any fights, and is slated to return for more in November.

Then there’s the question of what you do with a fighter who you’ve deemed medically unfit to fight based on a column he wrote for a website. How can you keep him under contract if you’re not going to let him work?

And if you do release him, does that mean any fighter can get out of his contract by publicly proclaiming his brain to be damaged, only to pop up in Bellator a couple months later declaring that, actually, he’s feeling much better now, thank you?

These are uncharted waters. This wasn’t an athletic commission that pulled Hunt from the fight. And, as far as we know, the decision to pull him wasn’t based on any actual medical testing. UFC officials just read a column with Hunt’s name on it and yanked him, which forces us to wonder about the true motives here.

(Also, if talking openly about brain trauma leads to a de facto suspension, what you’ve really done is ensure that fighters will stay quiet about their symptoms if and when they do appear.)

But again, if Hunt really is experiencing the symptoms he wrote about, he shouldn’t be fighting. I wish the UFC had done more to confirm and investigate that before acting. I also wish it hadn’t decided to make this unprecedented principled stance with a fighter who’s currently battling the promotion in court. Then it would have been a lot easier to know what to make of it.

Are those the only two choices? Because if you told me right now that Rory MacDonald has a goat who he cares for and talks to and secretly feels is the only one in this world who understands him, I would believe that in a heartbeat.

First of all, that’s awesome. Second of all, if ever there was a situation where you don’t want to walk around with an imported IPA in your hand, loudly discussing the superiority of Japanese motorcycles, this is it. Third of all, Roy Nelson? Now that’s natural sponsor synergy, right there. Fourth, remember to have a good time. Fifth, but not so good that you forget to apply sunscreen and end up with the inevitable tank top tan. That’s experience talking, my friend.

Is this love? That you’re feeling? Is this – and here I’m just thinking out loud – the love that you’ve been waiting for?

But I know what you mean. Watching Demetrious Johnson pull off a brand new submission reminded me of one of the things that I’ve always loved about MMA, which is that it’s a sport that’s always growing and changing.

Remember 15 years ago when Tito Ortiz would take somebody down, wedge their head against the fence, and elbow a hole in their face? At the time that felt like a new answer for the relatively old problem of the jiu-jitsu guard. Now it’s the first step to having someone wall-walk their way to an escape.

The nature of MMA – just two humans trying to hurt each other in a cage, with relatively few rules restricting them – makes it an environment that allows for a lot of creativity. The opportunities for evolution are everywhere. New attacks lead to new counters, which then breed new variations on the old moves. Every once in a while, an artist appears to blaze a fresh trail.

You don’t really get as much of that with most other sports. Instead you get people who do the old stuff slightly better than their predecessors. This is one of the things that makes MMA special. I hope we never lose that.

Since we’re talking about a health and safety issue, I’m not sure we want to use “try something – anything!” as our mantra here. Some proposed fixes, like same-day weigh-ins or lengthy suspensions for missing weight, are likely to make things worse, because fighters are still going to take the risks even when it’s a bad idea, and you’re not going to punish your way out of this problem.

I think the best hope for a solution is something along the lines of what California is trying to do, using hydration testing and other methods to determine a safe fighting weight for every athlete, then making the fighters stick to those guidelines even when they don’t want to.

Even that system won’t be perfect. There will be times when it feels like regulatory overreach for a commission to tell someone like Renan Barao that he doesn’t get to be a bantamweight anymore.

Plus, fighters’ bodies change. They get old. Or they just let themselves get out of shape. Just because you determine a safe fighting weight, it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of fighters trying for last-minute, extreme weight cuts. And if you think it’s a bummer when a fight is scratched due to someone missing weight, wait until a big one is called off because someone is too far from the target weight for the commission to even let them try.

Still, this is obviously an issue. Fighters can literally die this way. Not to mention, it’s just insane to put athletes through that kind of intense depletion a day before the competition. There’s no doubt that performances suffer as a result. Careers are probably shortened, and for what? Just so fighters can face someone roughly their own size in the end?

I support athletic commissions that are serious about changing that culture, but it can’t just be one or two of them. As with anti-doping efforts, this needs to be something the whole sport does if we’re every going to get anywhere.

Ultimately? Antonio Silva is. But I see your point. It’s madness to me that GLORY would even book this fight. What’s the point? To let Rico Verhoeven show out against a big, slow punching bag of an opponent for the sake of some memorable violence? What, to prove some point about kickboxing vs. MMA? Is this some kind of sad, off-brand attempt at a Mayweather-McGregor-esque cross-sport challenge? I don’t get it.

Ideally, the people who love and care about Silva would stop him from doing this, but for various reasons I wrote about back when this fight was announced, that’s not happening. Instead we’re just charging ahead with this like these mismatches aren’t very dangerous, which they are.

I like face-punching and knockouts as much as anyone, but I won’t watch this. I can’t. As viewers and fans, that feels like the least we can do to make this sort of matchmaking stop.

 

Really, that’s your list? There’s something to spoil every one of those, and I’m pretty sure the last one is a cartoon.

If you ask me to pick a fight of the year that I can still feel good about as of this writing, I have to go with Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson. No one got popped for drugs. The judges didn’t screw it up (because Gaethje didn’t give them a chance). The fight was competitive and rational from a matchmaking perspective.

And if that’s not enough, the action was just bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

That’s not a call for the UFC to make; that’s up to the athletic commission. And no, based on precedence alone, that’s not something that merits an official punishment. We’ve seen fighters get away with much more egregious shots after the bell (looking at you, Germaine de Randamie) and there was no punitive action beyond whatever the referee was willing to do in the fight itself, which is usually nothing at all.

He doesn’t have to, because weight classes exist for a reason. But man, it sure would be great if he did, wouldn’t it?

I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the thought of watching Johnson keep beating up the same flyweights over and over, all while the UFC has to reach further down the rankings ladder just to find fresh opponents. It feels too easy for a fighter as good as Johnson. He needs a challenge. I’d argue he needs it more than he needs another victory. It’s just a question of whether or not he sees that – and whether or not he cares.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald working through some 'disappointment with Bellator' since signing

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

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.”

For more on “Bellator: Lima vs. MacDonald,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Primus rematch? Sure, but Michael Chandler also eyes 170 with MacDonald and Daley

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos

Michael Chandler hasn’t really held back when discussing the controversial ending to a title-costing affair with Brent Primus. And when another 155-pound fighter tried to crash Bellator’s title scene, the ex-champ made sure to reinsert himself in the chatter.

So you’d figure that Bellator President Scott Coker’s reassurance that a rematch with Chandler (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) is the next logical step for champ Primus (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) would be met with at least some enthusiasm by the former titleholder, right?

Well, not quite.

“Honestly, I couldn’t care less at this point,” Chandler told MMAjunkie Radio. “I just – I want big fights. I’m not necessarily wanting to fight Brent Primus next. At this point, I’ve already sat out for a little while. And they’ve let (Primus) act like he can actually call some shots and decide when he wants to fight.

“I know Scott Coker said something about February, March. That’s out of the question. Because I need to fight. And I want to fight. I’ve been teasing that I would love to go up a weight class and take some challengers there. I’ve got some options.”

This is, of course, not Chandler’s first time talking about a different weight class. After the leg injury that ended his recent Bellator NYC meeting with Primus proved to be less serious than it looked, the hungry ex-champ quickly resumed his training while eyeing a return.

Seeing that welterweight Rory MacDonald was dealing with a similar case of cage itch, Chandler even issued a challenge to the former UFC title challenger (via Twitter):

Chandler may have been fighting at 155 pounds for “99 percent” of his career, but he doesn’t really see himself as a small lightweight. Nor is he intimidated by the thought of meeting long-time 170-pounders. So, though MacDonald specifically is now scheduled to meet champ Douglas Lima, Chandler said now would be as good a time as any to start taking on these challenges.

“I’m not just looking to fight; I’m looking to get big fights,” Chandler said. “You only get a small window of opportunity in this sport. Someday I’m going to look back and wonder how many fights kind of flew under the radar for me.

Paul Daley had a nice, big impressive win this past weekend (over Lorenz Larkin at Bellator 183). That’s a fight that I would like, eventually. The Rory MacDonald fight is a fight that I would like eventually.”

That is not to say that Chandler doesn’t want a chance to reclaim the 155-pound belt. But he also believes that opportunity is “always going to be there.” So with Primus’ focus currently geared toward tending to his newborn, and Chandler’s desire to get back in there soon, he simply doesn’t see a title match as his only option.

“For me, my happiness is not tied to a belt,” Chandler said. “My happiness is not tied to that gold. They’re sitting in my house, and they’re collecting dust. And they will tarnish, and they will rust, and they will kind of deteriorate.

“But my career and the big fights and the people I impacted, and the people that watch me and the people that were inspired and motivated by a guy who wasn’t afraid to take on all comers, a guy who wasn’t afraid to get outside of his comfort zone and call out bigger guys, and call out big fights – that’s really what’s going to be painted in ink on my legacy forever, after I’m done. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Having shown a a lot less than he’d like at Madison Square Garden in June against Primus, Chandler is eager to create some new cage memories. But while he’s obviously had some trouble digesting the freakish way that title meeting ended, Chandler said it only hurt Primus’ own case as the division’s legitimate champion.

Chandler says he can’t really pin his own dissatisfaction with the “unfortunate set of consequences” that led to the doctor stoppage on Primus. But at the same time, he said the “part-time fighter” champ should be the one most invested in the rematch.

“If anything, he should be chomping at the bit to beat me and legitimize himself as the champion,” Chandler said. “I would think, if you have a competitive bone in your body, I would think that’s how your brain would work.”

For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald expects competitive Bellator title fight vs. Douglas Lima – but also a finish

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

After having little trouble getting past Paul Daley in his Bellator debut, Rory MacDonald believes his second promotional outing, against welterweight champion Douglas Lima, is going to be more competitive.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA), MacDonald points out, is going to be more competitive on the ground than the heavily striking-based Daley (40-15-2 MMA, 6-2 BMMA). The same applies to the wrestling bit. And, when it comes to both his past and future competitors’ kickboxing, MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) believes the two are even.

All things considered, Lima poses “a lot more” problems than Daley – who MacDonald finished in the second round of a Bellator 179 encounter. But, for the title challenger, that’s not at all a bad thing.

“I do believe that, in the transitions, that these more skilled and more well rounded guys present, I think that’s where I’m going to shine,” MacDonald told MMAjunkie. “And have my exciting moments that really give the fan an eye-opening experience, like ‘OK, this is the level of difference of the top guy and the guy just underneath.’ …

“I don’t say all of them, but I would say the majority (of fans) think that this guy is going to get squashed. I do think that it’s going to be a lot more competitive than the Paul Daley Fight. But, on the same note, I do believe his skillset is going to only delay what’s going to happen. I’m confident that I’m going to put him away.”

If you simply look at the records, it’s clear who has the momentum coming into the still-unnamed Spike-televised event set to take place Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. While Lima rides a three-fight winning streak, including the rematch that saw him reclaim the title from Andrei Koreshkov, MacDonald’s win over Daley snapped a winless dry spell that dated back to 2014.

Still, as a former UFC title challenger who put on some of the most memorable bouts of recent years, MacDonald was one of the world’s hottest free agents in MMA for a reason. Not to mention that, though both Lima and MacDonald fought and beat Daley, MacDonald was the one who was able to come out with a finish.

On his end, MacDonald believes there are lessons to be taken from Lima’s history. Not all of it is good, though.

“I think it gives me a sense of what kind of fighter Lima is,” MacDonald said. “I think he’s better than those guys, absolutely. But I don’t think he likes to be pushed out of his comfort zone. I don’t think he likes to take risks. I think he likes to sit back, win fights, and I think he’s a little bit scared, in that sense, when the time comes.

“I think he gets a little bit stressed out and doesn’t want to take that risk. I’ve been there, I know that feeling. So I guess I know how to expose it. And I see it. I see in his eyes. I see it in his performances. That’s why I’m pretty confident I know what’s going to happen the night of the fight.”

And what is that, exactly?

“I see it going probably one or two rounds,” MacDonald said. “Maybe three. I don’t see it going into the four of five rounds. I think I’m going to close the show before then.”

While MacDonald is only 28, he does carry a lot of experience into the cage – the type that numbers alone can’t quite measure. Amid his 23 professional MMA bouts, a few battles stand out – most notably, the UFC 189 rematch with then-champ Lawler that ended with a fifth-round TKO and two severely mangled faces.

MacDonald has since talked a few times about the battle – and has even accused Lawler of having made use of PEDs when it happened. But, although he walked away with a loss on his record, to this day he can’t take away from the type of experience that came from it.

“The fight with Lawler gave me a lot of comfort and confidence in fighting in a cage,” MacDonald said. “I’ve kind of been through that worst-case scenario, so to speak. And once you go through that, it’s kind of like swimming in the deep-end of the pool and finally realizing what it’s about. So I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to stepping into the cage now. It’s not that stressful.

“It is a stressful situation. The fights can get intense and get away from me still, I guess. But I guess a new level of confidence and comfort came over me in that fight. And stressful situations like titles an attention and cameras and light and people. That stuff kind of – it’s become easier for me to deal with. Because I’ve been through it. I’ve been there. It’s not unexpected. It’s not unknown anymore. I know what it’s about.”

To hear more from MacDonald, check out the video above.

And for more on “Bellator: Lima vs. MacDonald,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator champ Douglas Lima on Rory MacDonald: 'Mark my words, I'm going to finish him'

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

It’s rare that a champion is willing to go into enemy territory to defend his title. And yet, that was the case for Bellator welterweight title holder Douglas Lima if it meant fighting Rory MacDonald.

“I said it before. I’ll fight him in his backyard. I don’t mind,” Lima this week told MMAjunkie. “I fought in Canada many times before. I don’t mind it at all. I told them, ‘Wherever you want to make this fight, just make it happen.’ I don’t mind where it is.

“I was actually expecting it to be in Canada. He’s such a big name from there. More people to watch. It doesn’t matter who they’re cheering for. As long as the fight happened, I wouldn’t mind at all.”

Of course, Lima  (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) won’t have to worry about a home disadvantage when he takes on MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) on Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

Lima will be looking for his fourth consecutive win and second title defense after scoring a unanimous decision over Lorenz Larkin in June at Bellator NYC. MacDonald, meanwhile, will look to build on the momentum of his impressive submission win over Paul Daley in his promotional debut, which snapped a two-fight skid in the UFC.

Daley represents a common denominator for both MacDonald and Lima. Whereas MacDonald dominated his way to victory over “Semtex,” Lima went the distance for a unanimous-decision win last year at Bellator 158.

That was highlighted by MacDonald during their first face-off, who used that as evidence to predict Lima is “in for a hurting” when they meet. Not so fast, says Lima.

“MMA math doesn’t work,” Lima said. “It doesn’t matter if I took a guy to a decision, and he finished a guy. … It doesn’t matter. I guess it matters to him. But for me, I’m going to make it simple for him. I’m going to finish him instead of a decision. Let him say what he wants to say.”

“I really see myself knocking this guy out,” Lima added. “I do. People say he’s tough, he’s been through some wars. But, man, that jaw is always going to be the same. And I’m going to find it, and I’m going to knock this guy out. Mark my words, I’m going to finish him.”

To hear more from Lima, check out the video above.

And for more on “Bellator: Lima vs. MacDonald,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald 'probably wouldn't have advised' Georges St-Pierre to return at middleweight

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC

Bellator welterweight Rory MacDonald once lived in Georges St-Pierre’s shadow. A training partner of “Rush,” his early career was defined, in part, by his relationship to the former UFC welterweight champ.

Back then, St-Pierre was a mentor to MacDonald. But now, MacDonald is his own man, training in British Columbia, far away from St-Pierre’s Tristar home in Montreal. He’s a star in his own right with Bellator.

That means MacDonald is a spectator to St-Pierre’s (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) return like everyone else. He’s not quite sure how the once-dominant force in MMA will look when he takes on middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) at UFC 217, which takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“It will be hard to say, because we haven’t seen him in a while,” MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who next faces Bellator welterweight champ Douglas Lima, told MMAjunkie. “That’s the exciting part.”

The 36-year-old St-Pierre was a master at transitioning from striking to wrestling, always keeping his opponents off balance. But his opponents were a lot lighter.

St-Pierre repeatedly resisted the idea of moving to middleweight when the division was owned by Anderson Silva. He argued he would need years to bulk up to combat a size disadvantage. After years of rumors of a potential super fight, St-Pierre stepped away from the sport as a welterweight.

“The 185 thing, I probably wouldn’t have advised it, but he is his own guy,” MacDonald continued. “He has his own goals. He’s obviously very talented.

“He is the most dominant champion in welterweight, and one of the most dominant champions ever. It’s hard for me to say what’s right and wrong to a guy like that.”

St-Pierre, after all, has already showed the world he can come back from a serious deficit. Many questioned his future when he suffered back-to-back ACL injuries, and still he returned in peak form to defend his belt.

A self-imposed four-year layoff is an entirely new hurdle, though.

If MacDonald hadn’t experienced St-Pierre’s meticulous preparation first hand, he might be more doubtful of the experiment. Like a lot of people, he has his questions about what will transpire. But he still believes in his old mentor’s abilities.

“It will be interesting to see what new skills he brings in there, or if he’s going to revert back to his natural strengths,” MacDonald said. “I’ll be watching. I hope for the best.”

Check out the above video to hear more from MacDonald.

And for more on UFC 217 and “Bellator: Lima vs. MacDonald,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Douglas Lima on Rory MacDonald face-off: 'I thought he was going to sell me an iPad'

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Bellator champ Douglas Lima’s thoughts when he was face to face with a Steve Jobs-looking Rory MacDonald? “I thought he was going to sell me an iPad.”

The welterweight titleholder recently spoke to MMAjunkie about the encounter. This past weekend at Bellator 183, Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) and upcoming opponent MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) had a face-off – and it was a bit of a weird one.

The fighters meet Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., though the Spike-televised event doesn’t yet have a name/number. But it’ll be a big fight to kick off the organization’s 2018 season; Lima is No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, and MacDonald is No. 4.

Both dressed up for the face-off, though Lima said it dragged on for a bit and was a little “awkward.” He said he also felt a bit overshadowed since everyone was buzzing about MacDonald’s killer black turtleneck – and not Lima’s snazzy suit.

“I thought I had the better looks,” he joked.

Still, those face-offs are “part of the job,” though this latest one seemed to drag on (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

“You know, nobody broke us apart,” he said. “So we just stood there. I didn’t want to be the guy who looked away first, but it didn’t matter. It’s fun. It’s real. It’s a good feeling to get that first staredown.”

Lima is currently in his second Bellator title reign and looks for his second straight title defense. The 29-year-old reclaimed the belt in November 2016 with a knockout of Andrey Koreshkov (which avenged his first title loss), and he then defended it in June with a unanimous-decision victory over Lorenz Larkin.

He now fights MacDonald, a onetime UFC title challenger who left the organization after back-to-back losses to then-champ Robbie Lawler and fellow contender Stephen Thompson. The 28-year-old Canadian then became one of Bellator’s top free-agent signings. In his promotional debut, he submitted Paul Daley in May.

For more on “Bellator: Lima vs. MacDonald,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald and his glorious turtleneck threw shade at Douglas Lima during first face-off

One of the most anticipated title fights in Bellator history will kick off the organization’s 2018 schedule when welterweight champion Douglas Lima meets Rory MacDonald.

A fight between Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) and MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has been speculated since the former UFC title challenger joined the Bellator roster this past year. It will finally happen on Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and promotional efforts for the contest are already underway.

During Saturday’s Bellator 183 event, Lima – No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings – and No. 4-ranked MacDonald, faced off for the first time, and the Canadian came dressed for the occasion (via Twitter):

MacDonald made a successful Bellator debut in May with a second-round submission of Paul Daley. “Semtex” competed in the Bellator 183 co-headliner, picking up a second-round knockout over Lorenz Larkin.

Lima holds unanimous decision victories over Daley and Larkin. However, given his takeaway from all the fights he’s witnessed between the trio, MacDonald doesn’t think the champion has much chance of retaining his belt.

“He’s in for a hurting, man,” MacDonald said. “As you can see in these guys’ last performance here (between Daley and Larkin), I’m a level above these guys. This guy could barely hold his own with these two men in here, and I finished (Daley) like it was nothing. Expect the same when it comes to me fighting him.”

Lima was given a chance to fire back, and he did.

“It’s just going to be another name to the list,” Lima said. “Keep bringing them over (from the UFC), and I’ll keep taking them out.”

Instagram Photo

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald sends Douglas Lima scary GIF after fight booking, champ responds

It didn’t take long for Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima to get into it on social media after their Bellator welterweight championship fight was confirmed.

Bellator officials today announced MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will challenge Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) for the 170-pound title on Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. It’s a fight everyone knew was coming after “The Red King” made a successful Bellator debut against Paul Daley in May.

MacDonald sent a message to Lima following the Brazilian’s successful title defense vs. Lorenz Larkin at Bellator NYC in June, saying that he was “really underwhelmed” by the performance and that, “If these guys think they’re keeping the belt fighting like that, they’re just going to be another body in the grave.”

The dark imagery from the Canadian continued after the fight announcement became public, with MacDonald sending the champ a GIF from the movie “Sin City” (via Twitter):

Lima, No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, clearly has no intention of being intimidated by No. 4-ranked MacDonald. “The Phenom” immediately replied to the former UFC welterweight title challenger, letting him know that he’s not going to give up his belt without a fight (via Twitter):

For more on Bellator’s upcoming event schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, News
Source: MMA Junkie