Former Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald pulled off a shocking move earlier this week, announcing he was leaving Bellator and signing a deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) to compete in the welterweight portion of their 2020 season.
In the following days, it was reported Bellator never actually made MacDonald a formal offer. MacDonald and Bellator CEO Scott Coker, however, exchanged pleasant farewells and thanks to one another on social media.
Coker did not go into much of the negotiations and business side of things, but he did offer thoughts and explanations to media in a scrum that followed the Bellator 236 weigh-ins.
“I don’t want to get into negotiations and all that,” Coker said. “This is what I will say: At the end of the day, we keep the fighters that we want to keep. I think historically we’ve been successful in that. If we want to keep you on the roster, we’ll find a way. Look, agents come into play, dollars come into play, and it’s a value proposition at some point. So, to me, we just passed. We just said, ‘Hey, we wish you luck.’
I think he’s a great guy, and I don’t want to say anything about Rory other than we had some great fights here together, he was a great partner, and now it’s time for him to move on.
After ending his UFC tenure with two straight losses to Robbie Lawler (in their 2015 Fight of the Year title bout from ufC 189) and Stephen Thompson, MacDonald signed with Bellator MMA in August 2016. In his promotional debut, at Bellator 179 in May 2017, MacDonald submitted Paul Daley.
MacDonald then defeated Douglas Lima by unanimous decision to win the Bellator welterweight title at Bellator 192. He then failed to become Bellator’s first champ-champ, losing to middleweight champ Gegard Mousasi by second-round TKO at Bellator 206. MacDonald then defended his title in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, drawing with Jon Fitch and retaining against Neiman Gracie before losing the title back to Lima at Bellator 232 two months ago.
“We had a certain amount of fights. We honored those fights. We honored what we said we were going to do,” Coker said. “I have no bad feelings, and honestly I wish him well. It’s going to be a rough road here, too, for him. So I wish him well. He’s a great fighter, and he was here when we really needed to have free agents. From the very beginning of Bellator when I came in, we signed some guys, and he was willing to take the risk and come over. He’ll always be part of the history of Bellator. It’s just time for him to fight somewhere else.”
Original Story: MMAJunkie