June 18, 2019

Bellator 222: Rory MacDonald Wins But Douglas Lima Remains Favorite To Win Bellator Grand Prix

By Raphael Garcia

In the Bellator 222 main event, Rory MacDonald was able to fend off Neiman Gracie to move forward to the finals of the Bellator MMA Welterweight Grand Prix while also keeping his welterweight title. It was an important win for MacDonald, as many people were questioning whether he still had the drive to compete. But looking at MacDonald’s performances in the Grand Prix -- against Gracie and against Jon Fitch at Bellator 220 -- former champion Douglas Lima looks like he could be the favorite to win it all. And if so, that tournament win could be the notch that finally garners Lima the respect that he’s been denied for much of his career.

Lima and MacDonald are very familiar with each other. At Bellator 192 MacDonald made good on his promise to become the organization’s 170-pound champion, as he snatched the belt away from Lima after twenty-five minutes of action. Both men were beaten and battered at the end of five rounds, but when they went their separate ways, they took separate paths.


MacDonald has gone 1-1-1 since that fateful day in early 2018. He was finished inside of two rounds by Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 206, and his bout with Fitch in his first Grand Prix tournament bout ended in a draw. Nothing about these performances reminded people of the MacDonald that tore through the UFC welterweight division while putting together violent and methodical finishes. This MacDonald looked like someone with a lot of wear and tear on his body, despite the fact that he’s still “young,” as he turns 30 in a few days.

Lima, on the other hand, has fought twice since dropping the belt, but has looked much better each time out. He rebounded nicely by stopping former Bellator champion Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 206, then scoring a highlight reel finish against Michael Page at Bellator 221. Lima’s on the cusp of garnering the acclaim that has eluded him for much of his career, even though he’s one of the best homegrown talents to come out of Bellator. Other than Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and Michael Chandler, it’s hard to find someone that has found such clear success in Bellator's circular cage.


Just like last year's Heavyweight Grand Prix, this Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix has left much to be desired. At Bellator 222, Rory MacDonald punched his ticket to the final with a solid but unspectacular win. However, at the end of the day, fans are getting a rematch between two of the best welterweights outside of the UFC; in fact, if both men were competing in the Octagon, there’s a strong chance they'd be on the cusp of a title shot. Regardless, MacDonald and Douglas Lima will be fighting for Bellator's welterweight championship, and a Grand Prix Championship to boot. For Lima, winning the rematch against MacDonald and taking both belts home would put the spotlight on him in a way that has yet to occur in his career. And if that happens, it will be much deserved and long overdue.

Bellator 222
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie (WW Championship; WW Grand Prix semifinal): Rory MacDonald defeats Neiman Gracie via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47).


Bellator 222: MacDonald vs. Gracie took place June 14, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

Click HERE for more Bellator 222 Post-Fight Analysis


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