Former UFC star Rory MacDonald will finally make his long-awaited Bellator debut in a newly announced fight with Paul Daley in London, England on May 19th.
Bellator boss Scott Coker announced the news today at a press conference in England, revealing that the fight will take headline duties on the Bellator 179 card, which will be held at the 12,000 seater SSE Arena near Wembley Stadium.
MacDonald opted to leave the UFC and sign for Bellator in August of 2016 after deciding to test his worth as a free agent when his previous contract came to an end.
At the time MacDonald was coming off a two-fight losing streak in the UFC against the welterweight champion at the time, Robbie Lawler and current title challenger Stephen Thompson, but he was still considered to be one of the 170lb division’s top contenders, making his signing a major coup for Bellator.
MacDonald suffered a broken nose in both of those fights however and had also had issues with the same injury during his training camps, so he made the decision to take an extended period of time out before making his debut.
As for Daley, he’s coming off a potential ‘Knockout Of The Year’ candidate last time out, knocking out Brennan Ward with a flying knee to the face, and that leaves him with wins in six of his last seven fights.
There was talk that he would be going up against rising Bellator star Michael ‘Venom’ Page next, but the fight with MacDonald is an even higher profile match-up.
In fact, you’d have to go back six years to find the last time Daley had such a big opportunity, fighting Nick Diaz and Tyron Woodley in back-to-back bouts in the Strikeforce promotion in 2011 – coming up empty-handed on both occasions.
Major Bellator match-ups often tend to feature aging veterans and fighters on the downward sides of their careers, so MacDonald Vs Daley is a welcome step in the right direction, though it remains to be seen if hardcore MMA fan’s approval will equate to big ratings on Spike TV (which incidentally is soon to be re-branded as the Paramount Network according to media reports this week).