Top welterweight Rory MacDonald will close out his contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship this June at UFC Fight Night 89, with a title shot all but guaranteed if victorious over the in-form Stephen Thompson.
That doesn’t mean MacDonald will sign on the dotted line and extend his stay with the promotion, making it clear on a number of occasions that he’ll listen to anyone willing to pay him the money.
Bellator MMA could be that promotion and president Scott Coker told MMA Junkie recently that he will not get in the way of MacDonald becoming a free agent, but implores the welterweight and other fighters closing out their contracts to seriously consider their options.
“We’re not going to interfere in anybody’s contract because they have a contract with them. But I will say this – if you’re a free agent, you should fight your fights out, because we’re here too. So now there’s more than one buyer, which is good for the market, which is good for individuals, which is good for the league, which is good for our industry.
“Not every fighter’s going to fit with us. But he’s a guy that we’d be interested in talking to, if the time is right.”
Those seeking better payouts per fight will no doubt be enticed towards Bellator, who have already snatched up top fighters in former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and heavyweight Matt Mitrione.
While Bellator can offer a different payment platform for out-of-contract fighters, the UFC are still the leading industry in mixed martial arts and have the bank account to launch lucrative counter offers if needs be.
James McDonald, Pundit Arena