Canadian Rory MacDonald ready to rumble in Bellator debut in London

Rory MacDonald takes part in an open workout at the Aberdeen Pavilion on Thursday, June 16, 2016 in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/CP)

Canadian Rory MacDonald, a former UFC welterweight contender, isn’t thinking about titles as he makes his Bellator debut.

"Honestly I’m not too worried about being champ. I’m just there to take out whoever’s in front of me," said MacDonald, a native of Kelowna, B.C., who fights out of Montreal. "Obviously it would be nice to fight for the title but I’m not really putting a lot of pressure on that.

"I just want to go out there and wreck people the way I know I can."

MacDonald (18-4-0) kicks off his plan to wreak havoc in the Bellator ranks on Friday when he takes on brash Brit Paul (Semtex) Daley (39-14-2) at London’s SSE Arena, formerly known as Wembley Arena.

Watching will be Bellator champion Douglas Lima (28-6-0), who decisioned Daley last July in between losing the 170-pound title and winning it back from Russian Andrey Koreshkov.

MacDonald, 27, signed with Bellator last August after his UFC contract expired. His last fight in the UFC was a June 2016 loss to current No. 2 contender Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson.

Daley’s last opponent — Brennan Ward — was stretchered out of the cage in January after having his face carved open by a vicious flying knee at Bellator 170.

MacDonald started in mixed martial arts at 14, making his pro debut two years later with his parents having to give their approval. Even then only a few athletic commissions would sanction the youngster.

He won the King of the Cage Canadian lightweight title at 18 — in his sixth fight — and the King of the Cage world 155-pound title in his next outing a year later. He was 20 when he made his UFC debut, dispatching veteran Mike (The Joker) Guymon in four minutes 27 seconds.

"Watch that name. He’s going to go far," said then-welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who shares the same Montreal gym.

The stone-faced MacDonald went on to win nine of 13 UFC fights. Two of the losses were at the hands of (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler, including a July 2015 title challenge that lasted a bloody 21 minutes.

MacDonald, who had almost put Lawler away in the third round, had fought with a broken nose for much of the bout. The brutal contest, which left both men looking like they had been in a car crash, was named fight of the year by the UFC.

Daley, 33, was unimpressed.

"He quit the fight. He talks of being a warrior and all of this, but he quit in a fight," he told a media conference call. "Due to a broken nose or not, if you’re a fighter you do not quit."

MacDonald, on the same call, acknowledged the fight pushed him to his breaking point.

"But there was no way I was tapping out or telling the ref to call the fight. Just at that point, I was done on my feet and I had to take a knee and the ref stepped in. But if (Daley) thinks I’m an easy-to-quit kind of fighter, I think he’s in for a rude awakening."

MacDonald says his oft-broken beak is fine these days, thanks to reducing sparring before his fight camp to give it time to heal.

"I didn’t do that after I lost to Robbie Lawler. I was back in the gym, sparring hard, rebreaking it in training."

MacDonald was unfazed when asked if he was resigned with living with a damaged nose.

"I don’t really care. I’m not in this to be a model or anything. I’m a born-and-bred warrior and that’s my outlook on my life."

He has changed other things in training. He spent more time with longtime coach Dave Lea in Kelowna and opted to focus on his strengths rather than his opponent’s.

MacDonald says he feels "more respected" at Bellator, "rather than just being another guy in the line, another number or another sheep" at the UFC.

"Everybody’s wearing the same thing and everybody is trying to be Conor McGregor. So it’s lost its feel over there a little bit."

Daley, who has won 10 of his last 12 bouts, also has UFC roots. He won two of three there before being thrown out of the organization in 2010 for sucker-punching Josh Koscheck in the cage after a decision loss.


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