For even the casual MMA fan, the image of Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler standing toe to toe, covered in blood at the end of round four at UFC 189 is cemented in all of our minds.
That fight on July 11, 2015, is widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial arts bouts of all time. Fast forward almost three years later and MacDonald finds himself in another welterweight championship fight – this time under a different banner.
Bellator 192’s co-main event between Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald will be one of many high profile fights on Saturday night. Among the premiere of Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix (Rampage vs. Sonnen), the promotion will also be competing with UFC 220 in Boston. However, Lima vs. MacDonald will sell itself. The welterweight division across all of the major promotions is overflowing with talent. On Saturday, we get to see two of the best in the world go toe-to-toe.
The Red King
After his infamous war with Robbie Lawler, MacDonald understandably took a year off before a decision loss to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the last fight under his UFC contract. As a free agent, Rory made the controversial switch to Bellator. He made his promotional debut against Paul Daley in May of last year. His first Bellator fight was nothing short of dominant. It took MacDonald only 30 seconds to secure a takedown and administer a powerful ground and pound for the entire round. The second round was the same story. MacDonald landed a head kick and another single-leg takedown less than a minute in. More heavy strikes from half guard opened up a rear naked choke finish. Any questions about ring rust or cross-promotion hiccups that other former UFC fighters have faced were thrown out the window.
What to expect?
Despite “The Red King’s” impressive debut, his fight Saturday will be no picnic. Douglas Lima is 11-2 since being signed by Bellator with losses only to Ben Askren and Andrey Koreshkov. Along with his knockout power, Lima is a black belt on the ground. MacDonald has an extraordinary ability to adapt to a fighter’s game plan and take away his strengths and that will certainly be put to the test this weekend.
MacDonald’s move to Bellator was a head-scratcher for most. He was only 26-years-old when he first when he made the move and had compiled wins against some of the best welterweights in the world including against the current UFC champ Tyron Woodley. But with two straight losses in a stacked division, the move may prove to be brilliant. With a win Saturday against Douglas Lima, Rory has a chance to build his case as one of the best welterweights on the planet. It’s also hard to believe that we have seen the last of Rory MacDonald in the UFC. After his win against Daley, a title shot only made sense Rory. He made a powerful callout in the cage after the fight saying: “I will take that belt from you and I will take your health”.