Rory MacDonald’s first opponent in Bellator will be Paul “Semtex” Daley, and the fight is now scheduled to main event Bellator 179 in London, England at The SSE Arena.
After Daley (39-14-2) beat Brennan Ward last month, he challenged MacDonald (18-4) to a fight. Now he gets MacDonald, just over 100 miles from his home in Nottingham. Daley has won ten of his last twelve fights, and 31 of his 39 fights have come via finish.
The 27 year old MacDonald is among the best young fighters signed by Bellator. Currently in his prime, and once a no. 1 contender to the UFC Welterweight Championship, he makes his debut in what will be one of Bellator’s most anticipated fights that isn’t featuring legends or a special attraction. MacDonald has voctiroes over B.J. Penn, Demian Maia, Nate Diaz, and current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley. He lost to top fellow Welterweights Robbie Lawler and Stephen Thompson, though, in his last two UFC fights, and took time since those fights to let his nose heal from being badly damaged in those fights.
Bellator has also announced that Michael “Venom” Page (“MVP”) is expected to fight in front of his hometown crowd on that show.
Bellator 179 airs on Spike TV in the United States starting at 9 ET. Tickets will be available Friday, March 3 at The SSE Arena, Wembley Box Office (0844 815 0815), ssearena.co.uk and axs.com. A special SSE pre-sale will take place Wednesday, March 1 through Thursday, March 2. A pre-sale for The SSE Arena, Wembley will be available Thursday, March 2.
Keller’s Analysis: I’m curious to see the ratings Bellator draws for this event on Spike TV. It’s an attractive fight for MMA fans, but doesn’t have the “name value” of Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen or “freak show attraction” aspect that Bellator has sometimes utilized to draw big ratings. It’s the next test in whether Bellator can effectively draw big viewership numbers with someone like MacDonald on top. A win by Daley either will indicate MacDonald has dropped off a lot or Daley is making a comeback into contention.