Rory MacDonald will be hunting for a championship in a new promotion next year.
According to ESPN, the former Bellator champion has signed with Professional Fighters League and will take part in the organization’s 2020 season format at welterweight. PFL competitors in each weight class have a chance to earn a $1 million payout if they make it through the playoffs at the end of the regular season and are victorious at the promotion’s year-end championship event.
After MacDonald lost to Douglas Lima in the finals of the welterweight grand prix at Bellator 232 this past October, he revealed that his contract with the California-based promotion had expired. At the time, MacDonald fully expected to re-sign with Bellator and have a trilogy bout with Lima down the road.
“It’s [a trilogy] very likely,” MacDonald said. “We had two close fights. He won one, I won one. It’s kind of inevitable that we’ll probably fight again.
“I wouldn’t say no. If they want to do it, they can do it. First I’ve got to re-sign. My contract expired. We’ve got to deal with that situation. Obviously if they want to give a title shot, sure.”
Instead, MacDonald is arguably the biggest signing in the short history of the PFL, which was formerly known as World Series of Fighting until it was rebranded by a new ownership group. MacDonald was a similarly marquee signing for Bellator in 2017 following a 13-bout stint with the UFC.
The Tristar Gym representative claimed welterweight gold with a decision triumph over Douglas Lima at Bellator 192 but failed in a bid to become a two-division champion in a TKO loss to middleweight king Gegard Mousasi in his next appearance at Bellator 206. MacDonald then entered the Bellator welterweight grand prix as the reigning champion, where he advanced to the finals following a draw with Jon Fitch (by virtue of being the title holder) and a unanimous verdict over Neiman Gracie before falling to Lima in a rematch.
MacDonald challenged for the 170-pound belt in the Octagon in a memorable battle with Robbie Lawler at UFC 189, where his nose was shattered in a fifth-round TKO defeat in July 2015. The 30-year-old Canadian owns notable wins over the likes of Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, B.J. Penn, Jake Ellenberger, Lima, Nate Diaz and Paul Daley over the course of his career.