Out of all the guys Bellator has snatched from the UFC over the past two years, Rory MacDonald is the biggest. So to say Bellator had big hopes for him would be an understatement. Rory had big hopes too, declaring a plan to claim multiple titles in the organization. Alas, it’s taken Bellator a bit longer to deploy ‘The Red King’ than he’d like, and before this title shot against Douglas Lima he’d only had one fight with the organization since August of 2016.
That was a route of British power puncher Paul Daley, and the question was whether Rory would be able to dominate the same way against the more technical but just as hard-hitting Bellator welterweight champ Lima.
In the end, it wasn’t the kind of one-sided beating many expected out of MacDonald. Lima lost the first two rounds but came back in rounds 3 and 4 off the strength of some hard leg kicks that left Rory with a lump for a right leg. But in round 5 Rory took control, securing the takedown and cutting Lima up with ground and pound. The judges saw the fight 48-47, 49-45, 49-46 in favor of MacDonald, making him the new Bellator welterweight champ.
Round one of the fight saw MacDonald control the pace of the fight, peppering Lima with accurate but not very hard shots before tying him up against the cage and taking him down. Round two was contested on the feet with Rory continuing to land more shots but Lima staying game, mixing his punches with leg kicks and hitting harder when he did land. Round three saw Rory retake control, holding Lima against the cage before scoring the takedown and keeping the champ on his back against the mat.
But the momentum shifted after a ref stand up. Lima landed another hard kick to the shin that knocked the legs out from under MacDonald, and it looked questionable as to whether he could stand back up, and two rounds to go. Lima pounced in round four, securing mount for over a minute. Later in the round, Rory managed to get on top and worked with more urgency to hit Lima with some damaging ground and pound, but wasn’t able to hurt his opponent much.
Things went into the fifth even with Rory taking the first two and Douglas the latter two. MacDonald went full positional, putting Lima against the cage and then onto the ground, taking top position and staying active enough to keep the ref from stepping in. He opened a gash over Lima’s eye and bounced his head off the canvas with a big elbow. That was enough to win him the round, but in the end, only one judge needed the fifth round to give the fight to MacDonald 48-47. The other two gave it to MacDonald by a wider margin, 49-46 and 49-45.