Canadian welterweight Rory MacDonald to face Paul Daley in Bellator debut

MacDonald to face Daley in Bellator debut

TORONTO — Former UFC welterweight contender Rory (Red King) MacDonald is returning to action, promising to make his Bellator debut in May a “bloodbath.”

The 27-year-old B.C. native, who now makes his home in Montreal, will meet veteran English fighter Paul (Semtex) Daley in the main event of Bellator 179 on May 19 at London’s SSE Arena.

It’s the first outing for MacDonald (18-4-0) since letting his UFC contract expire and signing with Bellator, the sport’s No. 2 promotion in North America. 

MacDonald, who went 9-4-0 in the UFC, last fought in June 2016 when he lost a decision to Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson in Ottawa in a battle of top 170-pound contenders. When he signed with Bellator last August, he said he didn’t expect to fight until this July — to spend time with his new baby daughter and allow his oft-battered nose time to heal.

But he said the May timing is right.

“It’s a big card and Daley’s coming off a huge win,” MacDonald said Thursday from Kelowna.

He said he was looking for a “dominant victory.”

“I want to go in there and from the beginning — the opening bell — until I put him away, I want it to be a slaughter in there. And I want the fans to be going crazy. I want them to know when I fight it’s going to be a bloodbath.”

Daley (39-14-2) kept the stretcher-bearers busy last time out at Bellator 170 in January when he stopped Brennan Ward via a vicious flying knee to the face in the first round. Ward was carried out of the cage with a big ugly crescent cut below his left eye.

Daley called out MacDonald in the wake of the bloody win, promising to knock him out.

“I’m looking at everybody. Marquee names and champions,” Daley said. “Rory MacDonald comes over here and thinks he can do his thing, it’s not going to happen.”

MacDonald responded on social media, posting a video clip of actor Zach Galifianakis laughing.

Daley, 33, ticks off a lot of boxes for both Bellator and MacDonald. He is a name fighter with a track record who can talk a good game as well as fight one. He has won 10 of his last 12 fights.

A win over Daley would set MacDonald up nicely for a fight with Bellator champion Douglas Lima, who won a decision over Daley last July to decide the promotion’s No. 1 contender. Lima then knocked out Andrey Koreshkov in November to win the title.

“I think it’s a big opportunity for myself,” said MacDonald. “He’s been around forever. I’ve watched him since before I even started my career. This guy’s paid his dues, he’s been around. He’s fought the Who’s Who and he’s still relevant. He’s still at the top of the game and one of the biggest names in Bellator.

“This fight will be a perfect setup for a title fight and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Daley has been the busier fighter of late with two bouts in 2015, two in 2016 and one so far in 2017. MacDonald fought once in 2015 and once in 2016.

MacDonald says in reviewing his past training, he concluded he was trying to do too much.

“I sometimes have a problem wanting always to learn new things and I stray away from focusing on the things that have made me successful,” he said. “So basically I’ve geared my training back to focus on my strengths and applying them in my fights.”

MacDonald did not undergo surgery on his nose, which was redistributed by then-champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 in July 2015. Thompson apparently did him a favour in the last fight.

“He actually straightened it out for me,” MacDonald said.

 

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press