This Saturday, in the main event of the stacked Bellator 206 card, Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald will move up to middleweight in an effort to swipe the middleweight belt from the waist of divisional champ Gegard Mousasi.
No matter the outcome of this fight, MacDonald will then drop back down to welterweight, where he will attempt to defend his title in a welterweight tournament featuring Douglas Lima, Andrey Koreshkov, Paul Daley, Michael Page, Ed Ruth, Neiman Gracie, and Jon Fitch, the latter of whom MacDonald will meet in the first round.
Speaking to MMA Fighting in the lead-up to Bellator 206, Rory MacDonald explained that it’s a real blessing to know who he’s fighting after this bout with Mousasi. This kind of clarity, he reminds, is a real rarity in the sport of MMA.
“I think it’s great,” MacDonald said of the tournament. “I know my schedule for the year, somewhat, and I’m happy about that. My life for the last 12 or so years has been like, ‘what’s next?’ I never know what’s next, you know what I mean? You never plan ahead. Opportunities can drop into your lap out of nowhere. It’s kind of nice. I know kind of when I’m fighting next, and who I’m fighting next.”
“They already told me they want me in January or February, so I’ve got a good amount of time,” MacDonald added, sharing the tentative timeframe for his first-round tournament showdown with Fitch.
One of the more interesting details of this tournament is that Rory MacDonald’s welterweight title will be on the line from his very first tournament bout onward. In other words, he could conceivably win the tournament having defended his title multiple times, while the title could also change hands multiple times throughout the tournament.
For MacDonald, this is an exciting way to prove he’s truly Bellator’s best welterweight.
“I’m happy because I want to fight all of the guys in the division,” he said. “Why not fight in a tournament? I get to fight everybody in the division and prove that I’m the actual champ.”
Rory MacDonald also appreciates this tournament for its simplicity. In a tournament, there’s very little chance of politics playing a part in the matchmaking process, as the matches are determined by who wins in each round. Having fought in the UFC welterweight division, which is currently running high on drama, MacDonald appreciates this fact.
“I see what’s going on,” MacDonald said of the UFC welterweight division. “[UFC welterweight champion] Tyron [Woodley] is doing very well. It seems very dramatic, from what I can tell, so I’m happy to not be a part of that. I’m happy that I’m just fighting great competition over here, getting great opportunities, and that’s it.”
“[There’s] a lot of talking,” MacDonald continued, elaborating on his issues with the UFC welterweight division. “Just drama between all of the fighters. I find that stuff just annoying and fake. It’s not what mixed martial arts is about. I’m happy to be here where I feel like mixed martial arts is being represented in a more old fashioned way.”
Suffice it to say that Rory MacDonald is very excited for the upcoming Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix. That being said, he assures his focus is currently locked solely on his middleweight title fight with Gegard Mousasi.
“My attention is on the Gegard fight,” he said. “I’ve obviously looked at Jon Fitch’s fights, I’m confident in my abilities going into a fight with him, but yeah, my concern is with this Saturday.”
How do you think Rory MacDonald will perform in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/28/2018.