For the first time ever, Bellator MMA will grace the Wembley Arena in London, bringing with it a very interesting card, culminating with the very anticipated debut of ex-UFC star Rory MacDonald, facing off against Paul Daley. Rory MacDonald, famously known for 2015’s Fight of the Year with Robbie Lawler, will try a new adventure in UFC’s top competitor Bellator MMA. Bellator is yet to pick up steam in its quest to rival the MMA giant, but it is precisely by signing fighters of Macdonald’s calibre that it can one day hope of becoming of equal share as the UFC.
The debut of MacDonald has been on the cards for quite some time, with the situation surrounding it feeling similar to the one for CM Punk – a large number of fighters on the roster all wanting to be the one facing the new fighter. In CM Punk’s case, it was all about the publicity, as Mickey Gall stated himself that he wanted to get into the fight with Punk because he was quite big with fans – Gall himself did not know who Punk was at the time. With MacDonald, the marketing aspect is only part of the story, as the “Red King” has been very much at the top of the UFC Welterweight ranking, believed by many as the next one to hold the strap. Unfortunately, this did not come to fruition, mainly because of MacDonald’s falling out with the UFC, which in my opinion was shown by the lack of effort in his unanimous decision loss to Stephen Thompson last June.
One can thus say that the chance to fight MacDonald would have proven to be also a test against a formidable opponent, with a possible win sending the chosen fighter towards MMA stardom. Paul Daley, also known as Semtex in the Bellator circuit, was quick to call out MacDonald after spectacularly knocking out Brennan Ward at Bellator 170, and MacDonald did not let Daley wait before replying, in typical twitter fashion, to his callout. The stage is thus set for a thrilling encounter – made even more spicy by the promise of a title bout for the winner of the match, who will then face off against the winner of Douglas Lima and another ex-UFC Welterweight at his Bellator debut – Lorenz Larkin – at an incredibly stacked Bellator 180 at Madison Square.
The eyes of the spectators will obviously all be on Rory MacDonald tonight and whether he is able to show his pre-2016 conditioning and mentality, but if Daley manages an upset and takes home the victory, it may well be the rise of a new superstar in the MMA scene.
Bellator 179 is live from Wembley Arena, London on Friday 19th May 2017. All fighters have successfully made weight in a staggering 18 minutes on Thursday morning. Off to rehydrate and gain 15+ pounds y’all! You can follow the action on the main card, which also features Kimbo Slice Junior, from 9pm UK time (or so it seems) on Channel 5.