Rory MacDonald has been almost universally praised for his effort in defeat against Robbie Lawler in their classic slugfest at UFC 189 nearly two years ago.
In a bout that topped most of 2015’s “Fight of the Year” polls, MacDonald was on the verge of defeating Lawler before a left hand from “Ruthless” shattered his opponent’s already mangled nose 60 seconds into the fifth frame. Heading into the fifth, all three cageside judges had MacDonald up 39-37 on their scorecards, an impressive feat considering that the “Red King” likely had his nose broken in the opening stanza by one of the sport’s hardest hitters.
However, Paul Daley, who will face MacDonald in the Bellator 179 headliner on May 19, scoffed when questioned about his opponent’s durability. The British knockout artist pointed to the decisive moment of the fight, when MacDonald crumbled to the canvas in agony before being finished by Lawler moments later.
“Didn’t he quit against Robbie Lawler? I’m pretty sure he quit in that fight. He quit the fight,” Daley said during a conference call on Tuesday. “He talks of being a warrior and all of this, but he quit in a fight. Due to a broken nose or not, if you’re a fighter you do not quit.
“I’m not worried about anything Rory has to bring. I don’t care about the statistics.. He hasn’t fought me and that’s it. I fought guys that have never been knocked out, and if you look at their records, I’m the guy that knocked them out.”
UFC President Dana White claimed that MacDonald “didn’t know what year it was” after the bout with Lawler had concluded. In many ways, it took the Tristar Gym product the better part of two years to recover from that contest. He return to the Octagon before his nose was fully healed and lost a unanimous decision to Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night 89 in his final promotional appearance the following summer. He signed with Bellator shortly thereafter, but remained sidelined until the bout vs. Daley was announced in order to allow his injury to completely heal.
MacDonald, who called the fight against Lawler “the best time of my life,” disputes Daley’s notion that he’s the type of competitor who will look for a way out of a fight.
“I definitely was pushed to my breaking point in that fight. I definitely had to go down. There was no way I was tapping out or telling the ref to call the fight,” MacDonald said. “At that point I was done on my feet and I had to take a knee and I got stuck there. I think if he thinks I’m an easy to quit kind of fighter he’s in for a rude awakening.”