After a one-month break, Bellator made its return Friday from the SSE Arena in London, and Rory MacDonald made a successful debut with the promotion by defeating Paul Daley via submission in the main event.
It was a great showcase for MacDonald, who made the Bellator 179 match look easy by methodically picking apart Daley in the first round before locking in a rear-naked choke early in the second round for the victory.
MacDonald was fighting for just the third time since 2015 and the first time in 11 months. His last match came at UFC Fight Night 89, when Stephen Thompson defeated him by unanimous decision for a second straight defeat and his third in six matches.
|Bellator 179 Main Card Results|
|Welterweight: Rory MacDonald def. Paul Daley||2nd-round submission|
|Light Heavyweight: Linton Vassell def. Liam McGeary||3rd-round submission|
|Heavyweight: Cheick Kongo def. Augusto Sakai||Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Welterweight: Alex Lohore def. Dan Edwards||2nd-round TKO|
|Welterweight: Kevin Ferguson Jr. def. D.J. Griffin||1st-round TKO|
One reason for the long gap between fights for MacDonald was because of issues with his nose. The 27-year-old broke it in consecutive fights against Robbie Lawler and Thompson, and after losing to Thompson, he acknowledged it was a problem.
"I broke it actually a couple times before this fight," MacDonald told Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting. "I have no idea what to do. I gave it time' it kept breaking. I don't know if surgery is gonna be the best route. I really just have to take time. I'd probably at least look into surgery, see if that can make it stronger, because just time off didn't do s--t."
After defeating Daley on Friday, MacDonald said it's been a long, slow climb to get back to the top of the mountain, per MMA Junkie's Chamatkar Sandhu:
Chamatkar Sandhu @SandhuMMA
MacDonald: It's been a long 2 years. I focused on everything I was lacking in all areas in my life. I had to be on point & I was at my best.5/19/2017, 9:34:36 PM
There was more good news for MacDonald following his victory, as Sandhu noted he will challenge the winner of June 24's Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin matchup for the welterweight championship at Bellator 180.
MacDonald has not held a championship in any organization since winning the King of the Cage lightweight title in 2008. He made a strong impression in his Bellator debut and is one win away from capturing a title in the company.
Before the nose issues knocked MacDonald's career off course, he looked like a budding star in UFC's welterweight division. His fight with Lawler at UFC 189 was an instant classic that could have gone in either direction before Lawler was able to end it in the fifth round.
Now that MacDonald is healthy and able to train at full strength, he can show what he is capable of as a top star.