With another welterweight tournament matchup happening this weekend, the big question has been when champion Rory MacDonald will face Jon Fitch in the final first-round tournament bout.
Bellator President Scott Coker provided some clarity on the issue when speaking to MMAJunkie this week in Hawaii.
“[Rory’s] healing up, but I think he’s starting to train now,” Coker explained. “But he will be fighting Jon Fitch sometime in March. We’re finalizing the location of that fight.
Once that matchup takes place, the plan for Coker is to speed up the tournament with the hope of September being the targeted date for the finals.
“We’ll get into the semifinals in May and then June, and then September will be the finals,” Coker said. “So, that’s the timeframe for the tournament for the year.”
MacDonald (20-5) suffered his first loss under the Bellator banner when he was finished via strikes in the second round by middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi. It was the first time since July 2015 that the Canadian was finished in a fight. The 29-year-old has now lost three of his last five fights, including setbacks against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Robbie Lawler, where he also broke his nose.
Fitch (31-7, NC) is currently riding a five-fight win streak, including victories over former UFC title challengers Yushin Okami and Jake Shields. The 40-year-old is coming off a dominant Bellator debut back in May where he won a unanimous decision over Paul Daley.
Currently, former champion Douglas Lima will wait on the winner of February’s Bellator 216 main event featuring Michael Page (13-0) against Paul Daley (40-16-2). This Saturday pits undefeated prospects Neiman Gracie (8-0) and Ed Ruth (6-0) against each other at Bellator 213. The winner of this fight will battle the Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch victor.
How do you think Rory MacDonald will look in his return to action?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/13/2018.