Former UFC welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald is only one fight deep into his Bellator tenure, but he’s already been tapped to challenge for the promotion’s 170-pound divisional championship.
MacDonald will challenge reigning champion Douglas Lima on Jan. 20, 2018, when Bellator returns to The Forum in Los Angeles. MMAWeekly.com confirmed the bout with Bellator officials following an initial report by the Los Angeles Times.
MacDonald (19-4) made his promotional debut in May of this year at Bellator 179, where he finished Bellator mainstay and fellow UFC veteran Paul Daley. It didn’t take long for MacDonald to prove he belonged in the Bellator welterweight upper echelon, as he choked Daley out less than two minutes into the second round. Now, he’s taking aim at the first part of his lofty Bellator goals.
“When I signed with Bellator, I made it clear I wanted to take over — multiple weight classes and multiple championships,” MacDonald said in a prepared statement first published by the Los Angeles Times. “Douglas Lima and his title are first on the list before I move onto the next.”
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Lima (29-6) also defeated Daley before he captured the title by knocking out Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 164 last year. He has since defended the strap once, winning a five-round unanimous decision over another UFC transplant in Lorenz Larkin at Bellator NYC in June.
The champ is currently at the top of his game, and doesn’t expect any slowdown against MacDonald.
“I haven’t been this healthy in a long time and Rory is going to be just another win on my record.”