The Professional Fighters League has inked a deal with former Bellator champion and UFC fighter Rory MacDonald, adding its most high-profile fighter their tournament format next year.
The signing was first reported by ESPN after MacDonald became a free agent with the expiration of his Bellator deal earlier this year.
The 30-year old has been fighting since 2005 with 28 professional fights in his career. After winning his first nine fights, he was signed by the UFC and fought for the group in January 2010 and suffered his first loss to Carlos Condit later that year at UFC 115. MacDonald went on to win eight of his next nine fights and ascend the welterweight division, which was dominated by Tristar teammate Georges St-Pierre.
Following a loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 in November 2013, MacDonald secured victories over Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley, and Tarec Saffiedine to earn his first championship fight, with Lawler now champion at 170 pounds. The two had a Fight of the Year in July 2015 at UFC 189 with MacDonald stopped in the fifth round. MacDonald did not fight again until June of 2016, dropping a decision to Stephen Thompson and then signing with Bellator.
MacDonald returned to form with a dominant win over Paul Daley in his promotional debut in May 2017 and became Bellator welterweight champion defeating Douglas Lima in January 2018. MacDonald made the decision to move up and challenge middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi later that year and was stopped in the second round.
This past year, MacDonald defended his welterweight title throughout the Welterweight Grand Prix. He advanced past Jon Fitch when they fought to a majority draw where the title did not switch hands. In the post-fight interview, he gave a raw assessment of his conflicts with the sport and questioning whether it was something he could still do. He got past those issues and came back seven weeks later to defeat Neiman Gracie at Bellator 22 in June 2019.
He lost his title in the finals of the Grand Prix in a rematch with Lima where he dropped a unanimous decision in October.
The PFL is about to wrap its second season since rebranding from its prior incarnation as World Series of Fighting. In the first season, the welterweight tournament was won by Magomed Magomedkerimov. This year’s welterweight final will be decided on December 31st between David Michaud and Ray Cooper III with the winner receiving $1 million.