Rory MacDonald leaves UFC to sign with Bellator MMA


Rory MacDonald waves to fans as he is weighed during the weigh in for a UFC Fight Night event in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Rory MacDonald is leaving the UFC after more than six years with the promotion, as the Canadian will be joining the Bellator MMA roster.

MacDonald was officially removed from the UFC rankings Wednesday, one day after the company declined to match an offer MacDonald received from Bellator.

FloCombat was first to report the news of MacDonald’s move.

MacDonald and Bellator made the official announcement Friday during Bellator 160.

MacDonald, 27, has been a top-five welterweight for several years but is coming off back-to-back losses to former champion Robbie Lawler and top contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

He holds a dominant victory over current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and has been involved in some of the most memorable fights in UFC history – notably his UFC 189 classic with Lawler – yet he was never paid like one of the company’s top stars.

MacDonald’s disclosed base salary for that Lawler bout was US$59,000 (had he been victorious, that $59,000 would have doubled with a win bonus). He reportedly earned another $59,000 for his fight with Thompson plus an additional $10,000 in Reebok sponsorship money.

He’ll have the opportunity to earn significantly more money in Bellator, especially on the sponsorship front.

MacDonald recently became a first-time father and prior to his June tilt with Thompson — the final bout on his UFC contract — MacDonald told Sportsnet about how fatherhood would impact his decision in free agency.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking [about fatherhood]…It’s given me a different approach as far as my concerns about my finances and stuff,” MacDonald said. “Before I wasn’t too worried. I was comfortable with what I have. I was not a very rich kid growing up so I don’t need a lot to be happy, but now that I have a daughter on the way [she was born in early July] I just want to have money for her so she can do what she wants. So she’s comfortable and happy her whole life.”

Former UFC champions Benson Henderson and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, plus ranked contenders Phil Davis and Josh Thomson have all recently signed with Bellator.

Generally speaking Bellator’s 170-pound division doesn’t stack up to the UFC’s in terms of talent, but there will be a handful of tantalizing potential matchups for MacDonald including Douglas Lima, Michael Page and champion Andrey Koreshkov.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.