Rory MacDonald vs Neiman Gracie official for Bellator 222

Rory-MacDonald-Neiman-Gracie-Darrion-Caldwell-Kyoji-Horiguchi
PhotoCred: Bellator

Bellator 220 took place this past weekend and the main event saw the welterweight title be fought over between champion, Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) and challenger, Jon Fitch to decide who would advance to the welterweight Grand Prix semifinal round. Awaiting the winner was undefeated BJJ ace, Neiman Gracie (9-0).

However, there wasn’t a winner as the two men fought to a majority draw. Due to the fact that MacDonald was the champion and he didn’t lose, he would, of course, remain champion thus making it so that he advances forward in the tournament.

Immediately after the fight is when things got even more interesting as MacDonald seemed to kind of hint at potentially retiring as he questioned his in-fight drive and killer instinct.

Well, it seems that it was just an in the moment type of feeling as Bellator announce Tuesday via press release that MacDonald vs Gracie is now official for Bellator 222 on June 14 in Madison Square Garden.

The welterweight champion released a statement along with the news.

“I want to take the time to thank everybody who had the chance to see my fight last weekend and share that candid moment I had in the Bellator cage with John McCarthy.

“I felt an internal struggle during the fight I never experienced before. I have always enjoyed my time in the cage by expressing my techniques in full out combat against another top-level fighter, but this time I wasn’t enjoying it. It felt more like a job than the satisfaction I am used to feeling by being dominant and applying what I have practiced to defeat someone.

“Even during my dominant moments, I felt I was completing a task and these feelings were a bit confusing to me because it’s new. I used to fight with anger I held within myself from pain I had experienced in my past. To be honest, I believe this comes from my heart changing as I’m walking a new life as a Christian. The Lord has given me peace and freedom from the pain that haunted me in my heart from my younger years. I would only satisfy myself for a short period of time from winning fights until the feeling would resonate in me again. So, now I don’t feel the same emotions I have in the past while competing.

“I still and will always have a passion for martial arts and do not believe, as a Christian, that it’s wrong for myself to compete in a professional sport that is violent. In fact, I’m happy to testify about being a Christian on this platform I’ve been given.

“To be clear, I am not retiring from my professional MMA career, I’ve always been true and honest in the sport and I spoke from the heart.

“As for my career at the moment. I am going to move forward in this tournament and compete boldly against Neiman Gracie in New York at MSG on June 14.

“Thank you for your support and all the kind messages I’ve received after this sentimental moment I had for all to see after 14 years of being in this sport.”

The rest of the great Bellator 222 line-up that continues to shape up can be seen below.

Light heavyweight – 205lbs: Lyoto Machida vs Chael Sonnen

Welterweight – 170lbs: (C)Rory MacDonald vs Neiman Gracie

Bantamweight – 135lbs: (C)Darrion Caldwell vs Kyoji Horiguchi

Catchweight – 175lbs: Dillon Danis vs Max Humphrey

Flyweight – 125lbs: Heather Hardy vs TBA

Flyweight: Brandon Polcare vs Brandon Medina

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/30/2019