Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald is set to defend his title on June 14 at Bellator 222 in New York City. The bout will serve as the semifinal to the promotion’s welterweight grand prix and comes at a time when MacDonald appeared to be considering retirement.
Following his win over Jon Fitch at Bellator 220, MacDonald expressed his lack of desire to inflict pain on anyone moving forward.
“It’s hard to pull the trigger,” Macdonald said after the fight. “I don’t have that killer instinct. It’s hard to explain. It takes a certain spirit to come in here and put a man through pain, and I don’t know if I have that same drive to hurt people anymore.”
However, the “Red King” has since thought about his decision and made the choice to give MMA another go.
MacDonald confirmed the news in a lengthy statement through the promotion.
“I want to take the time to thank everybody who had the chance to see my fight last weekend and share that candid moment I had in the Bellator cage with John McCarthy.
“I felt an internal struggle during the fight I never experienced before. I have always enjoyed my time in the cage by expressing my techniques in full out combat against another top-level fighter, but this time I wasn’t enjoying it. It felt more like a job than the satisfaction I am used to feeling by being dominant and applying what I have practiced to defeat someone,” MacDonald said.
“Even during my dominant moments, I felt I was completing a task and these feelings were a bit confusing to me because it’s new. I used to fight with anger I held within myself from pain I had experienced in my past. To be honest, I believe this comes from my heart changing as I’m walking a new life as a Christian. The Lord has given me peace and freedom from the pain that haunted me in my heart from my younger years. I would only satisfy myself for a short period of time from winning fights until the feeling would resonate in me again. So, now I don’t feel the same emotions I have in the past while competing.
“I still and will always have a passion for martial arts and do not believe, as a Christian, that it’s wrong for myself to compete in a professional sport that is violent. In fact, I’m happy to testify about being a Christian on this platform I’ve been given.
“To be clear, I am not retiring from my professional MMA career, I’ve always been true and honest in the sport and I spoke from the heart.
“As for my career at the moment. I am going to move forward in this tournament and compete boldly against Neiman Gracie in New York at MSG on June 14.
“Thank you for your support and all the kind messages I’ve received after this sentimental moment I had for all to see after 14 years of being in this sport.”
Bellator 220 is set to take place at Madison Square Garden. The event will be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida, while a cross-promotional title fight between Bellator bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell and RIZIN titleholder Kyoji Horiguchi will also be on the card.