Free agency in MMA has been without a doubt one of the hottest stories of 2016 and it got it’s biggest headline thus far when Canadian welterweight Rory ‘The Red King’ MacDonald signed with Bellator MMA.
The day started with UFC removing MacDonald from their official rankings. Speculation then grew that the Tristar fighter, who had just passed the 60-day exclusive negotiating rights period with the UFC, might be headed to Bellator.
The UFC then appeared to decline to match the offer by Bellator thus leaving the door wide open for MacDonald to go ahead and sign with the Viacom-owned promotion.
Bellator has signed a lot of ex-UFC fighters recently, including Josh Thompson, Matt Mitrione and Benson Henderson. Howeve, MacDonald, who at just 27 and arguably not yet in his prime, is the biggest signing they’ve made to date.
Despite coming off back-to-back losses, the Canadian is widely considered a top five fighter in the 170lb weight class and has notable wins over current UFC champion Tyron Woodley as well as top contenders Demian Maia and Nate Diaz.
Though MacDonald has yet to comment on the move, Bellator president Scott Coker and shared his thoughts on when we could see him in action.
“He decided to test free agency,” confirmed Coker. “We made an offer to him a week or so ago. Rory is a world class fighter, probably top 2-3 right now. It’s up to him but if he wanted to fight before the end of the year we have plenty of fights for him to participate in.”
Potential fights for MacDonald could include an immediate title shot against current champion Andrey Koreshkov, Paul Daley, Douglas Lima or the white hot star of the moment, London’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page.