Rory MacDonald (left) throws a kick at Robbie Lawler during their welterweight title bout at UFC 189. John Locher
fresh start

Top welterweight Rory MacDonald to leave the UFC for rival promotion Bellator

The UFC have chosen not to match the terms of a contract offered to the Canadian contender by Bellator.

RORY MacDONALD WILL resume his mixed martial arts career away from the UFC, with rival US promotion Bellator on the verge of announcing the signing of the Canadian welterweight.

MacDonald (18-4), who was signed by the UFC as an undefeated 20-year-old in 2010, became a free agent in June and was removed from the organisation’s rankings yesterday.

The last fight on his UFC contract was a unanimous-decision defeat to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in what was regarded as a number-one contender bout for a shot at the 170lbs title, which is now held by Tyron Woodley.

It was the 27-year-old’s first outing since he came desperately close to becoming the UFC’s welterweight champion in July 2015, before being stopped in the fifth and final round by Robbie Lawler.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani of back in March, MacDonald revealed that talks to renew his deal with the UFC had reached an impasse.

“I want to make the most money I can. I want to get paid for what I bring to the table,” said MacDonald, who earned a disclosed sum of $59,000 for his championship bout against Lawler, which was supplemented by a $50,000 ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot to get to the top, to the world title. I really sacrificed, and I took a lot of chances. I did a lot of favours, I felt like, for the UFC and I don’t think it got returned. So now it’s all about making money, and whoever wants to pay me the most is where I’ll go.”

Having been presented with the terms of MacDonald’s offer from Bellator, the UFC chose not to match the deal, which frees up the Tristar fighter to make a move to a promotion whose welterweight division includes the likes of Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Paul Daley, Douglas Lima and champion Andrey Koreshkov.

MacDonald’s impending switch — which was first reported yesterday by FloCombat – is perhaps the biggest coup yet for Bellator and the concept of free agency in general, as athletes begin to look outside the top organisation in MMA to maximise their worth.

Other top fighters who have followed the same path recently include Phil Davis, Matt Mitrione and former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.

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