Instead of signing an extension before his last fight, Welterweight title contender Rory MacDonald (18-4, 8-4 UFC) bet on himself going into free agency. Now it appears MacDonald maybe be signing somewhere other than the UFC. As of Wednesday morning, MacDonald had been removed from the UFC Welterweight rankings.
Not long after the rankings removal, Ariel Helwani reported on his Twitter account that MacDonald is close to signing with Bellator MMA. If MacDonald does indeed sign on with the Scott Coker-led promotion, he would join Benson Henderson as the most high-profile fighters to leave in free agency.
MacDonald has had two high-profile losses in his last two fights against Stephen Thompson earlier this summer and Robbie Lawler last summer. He won 9 of his first 11 fights in UFC prior to those two losses, including statement wins over Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, and Jake Ellengerger. He was ranked no. 5 in MMATorch’s Welterweight Rankings for August.
He will be a featured headline act in Bellator, and a ratings draw based on his impressive record prior to last summer and and his upside, being just 27 years old.
McMinn Analysis: Well it looks like true free agency is finally here in MMA. For so long we’ve followed free agents in the big three sports while, in MMA, the best fighters haven’t had many options. Now one of the best welterweights in the world, not to mention one that is just entering his prime, is leaving the UFC for a better deal, presumably, with Bellator. I’m eager to see what match-ups Bellator has for the Red King after a likely title-shot against Andrey Koreshkov. Then again, there may be another couple of additions via free agency to the Bellator welterweight roster by then. Stay tuned!