Photo courtesy: MMAJUNKIE.COM
If you had told me after UFC 115 in 2010 that Rory MacDonald would become a world champion, I would have said “Duh!”. If you told me it would take nearly 8 years for the Canadian to reach the top of the mountain, I would have laughed in your face.
Sure, he lost to Carlos Condit that night in Vancouver, but he was just a kid. Not to mention the fact that he was winning that fight until the dying seconds of the third round. The MMA world was introduced to a new-breed of fighter that night, one that grew up training all aspects of the game, instead of a single discipline.
He was destined for greatness.
He worked his way up the ladder, dispatching of challengers. His path to a title seemed clear. He destroyed Che Mills, and outclassed the legend B.J. Penn. All that stood in his path to a title fight was a man named Robbie Lawler.
MacDonald would go on to lose a closely-contested split decision. Lawler would go on to claim the world title. Still, the future seemed bright for the “Red King”. He climbed his way back. He even picked up a win over current UFC champ Tyron Woodley. He was set to take the title from old rival Lawler at UFC 189. Heading into the fifth round, he was up on the scorecards 3-1. All he had to do was survive the fifth round and claim his belt.
One more loss in his next fight, and MacDonald left for greener pastures in Bellator MMA. He was classified as a guy who was right there, but in title fights, it was never “his night”.
That is no longer the case. A back and forth decision win over Douglas Lima at Bellator 192, and Rory MacDonald is now the Bellator world champion. It wasn’t easy, specifically due to a gnarly shin injury. Both fighters had their moments.
But, if MacDonald’s path to his first world championship taught us anything, it’s that he probably wouldn’t want it any other way.