May 22, 2017

Bellator 179: Rory MacDonald Performance Will Spark Interest In Bellator Welterweight Division

By Raphael Garcia

The UFC has been going through a period of growing pains under its new owners, with Bellator showing that it is ready to snatch up any “name” fighters that slip through the cracks. Rory MacDonald was one of those names, and nearly a year after his last appearance in the Octagon, he finally stepped into the Bellator cage on Friday at Bellator 179. The “Red King” stood across from Paul Daley and didn’t disappoint, creating a situation that makes it apparent that there are positives in signing former UFC talent.

For nearly seven minutes MacDonald completely dominated Daley, finishing him via rear-naked choke in the second round. While this isn’t a huge win on MacDonald’s resume, as he’s defeated more “important” opponents in the Octagon, it was a vital win for both him and the promotion that signed him.

MacDonald was coming off of two debilitating losses, to Robbie Lawler and Stephen Thompson. In those losses MacDonald took a massive amount of damage, leaving many wondering just how much longer the 27 year old could remain near the top of the welterweight rankings. One of the sad truths of MMA is that the consistent damage taken by these fighters shortens their careers. MacDonald has been in the game since the age of 15 back in 2005, meaning he already has more mileage than the average fighter his age. However, MacDonald’s performance on Saturday helped shut down those worries for the masses.

MacDonald’s win also injects some interest in the Bellator welterweight division. The 170-pound weight class features some interesting names and potential bouts for the former welterweight title challenger. At Bellator 180 Douglas Lima defends the Bellator welterweight title against another newcomer from the UFC, Lorenz Larkin. Larkin looked fantastic as he left the company, and this is a captivating title fight. In addition to a bout against the winner, former champion Andrey Koreshkov could serve as the next test for MacDonald. Regardless of the direction that the promotion decides to take, MacDonald against any of these men would draw interest.

Bellator has gambled on big signing before in recent history; Josh Thomson and Benson Henderson are two other big names that Bellator lured away from the UFC when they hit the free agent market. But unfortunately for both these men and the promotion, they suffered losses that hurt their available opportunities in the organization. Thompson and Henderson were both expected to vault into the title picture, but that’s no longer the case. Had MacDonald dropped this fight to Daley, his stock would have taken a similar hit, and the top of the Bellator welterweight division wouldn’t look as promising. This win put another notch on MacDonald’s belt, all while building interest in the entire weight class.
Bellator has made, and continues to make, key acquisitions on the free agent market, targeting both lesser-known prospects and fighters leaving the UFC. Rory MacDonald may be the biggest name and most relevant fighter to jump ship, so his performance at Bellator 179 was more than just a welcome reintroduction to MMA fans, it was a performance that provided positive momentum to the promotion.

Bellator 179: Daley vs. MacDonald took place May 19, 2017 at The SSE Arena in London, England.

Click the stars to rate how good you think Bellator 179 was.

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