The sacrifices that Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald made at UFC 189 will long be remembered by MMA fans and their fight will be romanticized by all those who witnessed it, even after both men have thrown their last competitive strike.
The brutal and bloody war of attrition ended in the fifth round when a desperate Lawler, behind on the scorecards, landed a ferocious left-hand to MacDonald’s already broken nose. Paralyzed by the excruciating pain, the Canadian dropped to the mat where he was pounced upon by the welterweight champion. A barrage of heavy, thudding follow-up shots convinced referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to call a halt to the action.
It was undoubtedly one of the greatest fights in the history of the promotion and beyond.
The fans weren’t the only ones romanticizing the fight, either. Despite the loss and the physical damage he incurred – in addition to the broken nose he had also fractured his foot, MacDonald would later describe it as “the best moment of my life”.
But is the permanent respect of nostalgic fans and the lingering memory of a glorious defeat worth all that pain? The reality is, those rewards alone probably do not justify such sacrifice.
Video Credit: The Legacy MMA
During an appearance on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, MacDonald revealed that his negotiations with the UFC had reached something of an impasse and that after his June fight with Stephen Thompson he will become a free agent.
I am fighting my sixth fight out of a six-fight deal,” said the 26-year-old. “I will be a free agent afterwards”.
“Basically, we didn’t really come to an agreement so I am going to honor the contract and go from there”.
“We weren’t too far apart when we came down to it, but I felt that my offer was fair and I was going to stand my ground for what I feel I am worth and what I brought to the table. They didn’t see it like that, so, it’s okay. I’ll try to make a dominant performance and really show my worth in my next fight. Then maybe after that we will come to a new agreement”.
“I want to make the most money I can. I want to get paid for what I bring to the table. 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 for 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 will go”
MacDonald acknowledged that the Lawler fight had influenced his thinking and awoken the business man inside him.
“The experience itself – the fight was great,” said Rory. “It was a great thing for my martial arts career. But a performance like that, and everything I did leading up to that in my UFC career, I feel I should be a little bit more financially stable…..I just have to fight for what is right on the business side now”.
“After a hard fight like that, it just opened my eyes to it. Like, okay now it’s time to get a bit more business savvy”.
MacDonald also answered in the affirmative when the show’s host Ariel Helwani asked him if the news that he would soon be a father had something to do with his stance.
With Matt Mitrione revealing earlier that he had signed a contract with Bellator MMA for “more than double” what he was offered by the UFC, the topic of financial incentives and free agency in MMA had once again become a major talking point on the show.
And MacDonald didn’t seem in the least bit surprised.
“Sometimes I look at the numbers and I’m like ‘What the fuck man? How am I getting paid that?'” said the welterweight contender. “It’s definitely becoming a main issue in our sport”.
Hopefully more fighters will show the strength, courage and faith in themselves that the young veteran is, and that mixed martial artists will finally get the financial rewards that they deserve.
MacDonald has already secured universal respect and admiration, but this should entitle him to a comfortable future as well.