Rory MacDonald Is the Most Relevant UFC Fighter to Test Free Agency

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC

Rory MacDonald’s whole career has been geared towards claiming the UFC’s welterweight title, which made his revelation on yesterday’s edition of The MMA Hour all the more shocking.

The Tristar title contender has decided that he will test the modern day mixed martial arts phenomenon that is the free agency market and he claimed that he will sign on the dotted line with the promotion who can come up with the highest bid for his skillset.

“I want to make the most money I can,” MacDonald told Helwani, according to MMAFighting.com. “I want to get paid for what I bring to the table, you know?

“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 favors, 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.”

‘The Red King’ is arguably the most relevant fighter to test the free agency market. While Ben Henderson’s and Phil Davis’ signing for Bellator are considered the two biggest names to have crossed over from UFC, top heavyweight Matt Mitrione’s recent capture by Scott Coker has flown under the radar to a certain extent due to the frequency athletes trading promotional allegiances. However, social media threads went into overdrive as MacDonald revealed his intentions to Helwani.

Money Talks

Just coming off ‘The Fight of the Year’ showing against Robbie Lawler, you can understand MacDonald’s argument.

Paid a disclosed $59,000 for the bout, (he also won a $50,000 ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus) what happened in the Octagon between him and Lawler at UFC 189 will remain one of the most grueling spectacles MMA audiences have ever seen in a championship bout for years to come. Conor McGregor reportedly walked away with millions after he beat Chad Mendes to claim the interim featherweight title on the same night. MacDonald came away with enough to buy about three-quarters of the Dubliner’s BMW i8.

Knowing how much of a physical toll the bout took on him, and knowing that it is inside the realms of possibility that he might have to dig into them subhuman depths again for the promotion in the future, MacDonald’s stance is one that will likely be heralded by his fellow professionals. The more conversation for competitive wages for fighters is brought up, the more it helps the cause of everyone from the bottom of the card, to the top.

A Massive Coup for the Opposition

It’s hard to believe that UFC has not come up with a deal that has secured the services of MacDonald. A perennial title contender, a man we have literally seen grow before our eyes in the Octagon, one of the smartest and most technical welterweights in the game, the 26-year old Canadian seems to be far from finished with the sport. Ruling out the possibility of resigning with Dana White and Co before he fights Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, MacDonald has got to be a target from Bellator, WSOF and potentially One FC and Rizin on the Asian market.

Both Bellator and WSOF have decent names on their books at 170 lbs. With Henderson signing on the dotted line with Coker recently, they will be delighted to bring in another marquee welterweight to stop the talk of their reliance on freak shows to sells fights. He’s worth the money for any promotion who can get him, and we can definitely expect some big offers floated towards British-Colombia born fighter.

The Risk of Wonder

UFC were never going to let MacDonald walk out as a free agent without a decent test, and Thompson may be one of the most feared men in the division at the moment. Coming off his stunning first round knockout of Johny Hendricks back in February, the karateka was expected to be next in line for a shot at Robbie Lawler’s belt. If he can manage a similar result against MacDonald it could have big implications for any contract negotiations he would have after the fact.

‘The Red King’ will always bet on himself, though. Only bested by two of the biggest names to compete in the weight class–Lawler and Carlos Condit–the ball will firmly be in MacDonald’s court if he manages to outwit Thompson on the night. Despite a lot of fans complaining about the number of rematches there are in UFC, if he leaves the June 18 showdown in Ottawa victorious the MMA universe will cry out for the third meeting between him and Lawler. In that case, UFC will be forced to match any large bid offered to the Canadian to resign him.

To lose MacDonald just as he reestablished himself as the number one contender in the division would not look good for the world’s most dominant mixed martial arts promotion.


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Bellator 149 Is a Costly Setback in the Era of Free Agency