While Rory MacDonald’s signing with Bellator MMA became official on Friday night, it might be close to another year before “The Red King” makes his promotional debut.
During a press conference following Bellator 160 in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday night, the former UFC welterweight title challenger said that he likely won’t fight until the summer of 2017 in order to let his nose heal from damage taken in two previous bouts.
“It’s gonna be in 2017. I’m gonna say summer, but we’ll see what happens. It could be before that but definitely 2017,” MacDonald said.
“I want to give my nose 100 percent time to heal. Last time I didn’t treat it the way I was supposed to,” he added. “I was too hungry to get back in the gym, to get in there and spar with guys to fight. That’s just in me to just go all the time. But I really have to pump brakes on this one because I can’t be taking a year off between every fight. That’s just not what I’m about. I’m gonna give it the time it needs to heal back to 100 percent, then hopefully I can fight once a quarter.”
MacDonald’s nose was shattered by a straight left from Robbie Lawler in the fifth round of their championship encounter at UFC 189 in July 2015. The Tristar Gym product’s nose appeared to have been broken in the opening stanza, and it continued to take absorb punishment until Lawler’s decisive blow in the final stanza.
MacDonald would receive a six-month medical suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission and didn’t return to the Octagon until nearly a year later, losing to Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 89 in Ottawa on June 18. The 27-year-old said he entered that bout with his nose still broken.
When MacDonald does make his Bellator debut, he expects to receive an immediate shot at the 170-pound title, which is currently held by Andrey Koreshkov. However, Scott Coker wasn’t completely ready to commit to handing out a title shot so far down the road.
“That’s a long time from now,” Coker said. “A lot could happen in our division. I think we have the best 170-pound division on the planet right now. It’s a stacked division. A lot’s gonna happen between now and the time he’s ready to fight.”
Regardless of how it happens, MacDonald has designs on two-division dominance in his new home once he gets healthy.
“I want to challenge the champion [at 170 pounds], and I want to go up to 185 to take that one too,” he said.