Rory MacDonald was an absolute mess back in January after his Bellator welterweight title fight against Douglas Lima.
MacDonald won to capture the belt by unanimous decision, but he left the cage in Inglewood, Calif., with a grotesque, bulging injury to his shin and an eye that was completely swollen shut. After a war like that, most fighters would not mind a lengthy period of rest.
Not “The Red King.”
Bellator president Scott Coker told Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that the two had a conversation less than a month after MacDonald’s win over Lima. And he was pretty much shocked about what his new champ was saying.
“Two weeks later, he calls me and he’s like, ‘I’m ready to schedule a fight,’” Coker said. “I said, ‘Rory, no, no. You need to put on the brakes here for a second. Let’s just rest.’ He said, ‘No, no, I’m ready. I’m just about ready to walk. I still have a limp, but I think I can start training in another week.’ I’m like, ‘This guy is nuts.’”
Coker’s logic prevailed a bit. MacDonald did take a break — he hasn’t fought since. But in exchange, the Canadian fighter, known for his toughness and bloody battles inside the cage, has a most ridiculous next few months ahead.
MacDonald, 29, will move up in weight and challenge Gegard Mousasi for the Bellator middleweight title at Bellator 206 on Sept. 29 in San Jose, Calif. Win or lose, MacDonald will then jump back to the welterweight division and the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix — where he’ll be defending his 170-pound belt throughout.
In the first round, MacDonald faces UFC veteran and former WSOF champion Jon Fitch. No date has been set for that, but Coker said Monday he’s potentially targeting February for that bout.
“He just wants to fight, he wants to stay busy,” Coker said of MacDonald. “He wants to get out there and compete. So, I think it’s my job to slow him down. He’s chomping at the bit. And he wanted this fight with Gegard and Gegard wanted to fight him. And they wanted to test themselves.”
So, if you’re scoring at home, MacDonald (20-4) will probably have two title fights in two different divisions, one of them a tournament match, in the span of five months. And if he beats Fitch and advances in the grand prix, he’ll have to face the winner of a bout between Ed Ruth and Neiman Gracie. On the other side of the bracket are welterweight studs like Lima, Andrey Koreshkov, Paul Daley and Michael Page.
That likely means it could be a very loaded and difficult 2019 for MacDonald. Seems to be that’s the way he likes it.
“I have never met a fighter like Rory,” Coker said.