When Rory MacDonnald steps into the cage to battle Gegard Mousasi on September 29th, the contest will mark the middleweight debut for MacDonald. In addition to this challenge, the reigning Bellator welterweight champion will have to defend his championship successfully three times to survive the welterweight grand prix, beginning with his first-round opponent Jon Fitch on a date to be announced. But Rory MacDonald is not overwhelmed by these challenges. Instead, he thrives on them:
“If anything, it’s kind of cool,” MacDonald told MMAFighting about having two fights booked at once. “It’s actually great, I love it. I don’t know, it’s just exciting to know that I’m not going to have to be waiting on the shelf for any reason. I have something to look forward to after this now, so I get to plan bit ahead, which is kind of rare in my career. I’m going with the flow always in my life because I never know what’s going on, say, six months down the road.
“But the way this year is stacking up, it’s going to be the biggest year of my career, so everything’s coming together. God answered my prayers and I’m so excited for what’s going to happen over the tournament and this middleweight championship. It’s a dream come true. Everything’s coming together.
“It’s exactly what I was hoping for in my transition to Bellator.”
And when it comes to putting on the pounds to compete at middleweight, Rory MacDonald does not foresee any struggles ahead of his bout with Gegard Mousasi:
“I’m a little heavier than I was the last couple years,” MacDonald said. “Because between my last fight and this training camp, I tried to put some size on with just eating and doing a lot more power lifting. But I’m walking around 195 and I still am going to trim down even more as the fight gets closer. But I’m really very close to the weight.
“I get to eat more [for this camp], so that’s nice. It’s one less thing, right? So that’s been a plus, that’s been a pleasure, but I’m also sparring with bigger guys more regularly. So I’ve been sparring with some light heavyweights, middleweights, and that’s been a fun experience. I used to spar with them, but now I’m just very much on a regular basis trying to go with the bigger guys as much as I can.
“I’m not forcing myself to put weight on, I’m just being myself,” MacDonald promises. “I’m just eating how I feel and I’m training hard. Wherever my weight’s at, it’s at.”
Still, Rory MacDonald is not naive to the challenge that Gegard Mousasi presents to him—both skill-wise and size-wise:
“[Mousasi] is very skilled and what I can tell is he’s physically very strong,” MacDonald said. “That’s what it seems like — when he gets ahold of guys, he’s very powerful. And it seems like he has a very relaxed mind frame, so he can stay pretty relaxed, he doesn’t get too nervous and mire himself up with bad nerves. His skill set is, I think, his biggest thing. He’s good everywhere, he’s dangerous everywhere … but he definitely will be the biggest guy [I’ve fought].
“I’m embracing that. I think I’d like to prove to people that my skills can carry me through even against bigger skilled guys.”
Ultimately, Rory MacDonald knows that at 29 years of age, he is in his prime, which is the impetus for MacDonald pushing himself to make the coming years as memorable as he can:
“I love what I do,” MacDonald said. “I also like to get paid, more on the regular. My last few years in the sport have been like one fight a year and that’s been frustrating. I don’t know, I just feel like I’m really hitting my stride the couple of years and I want to express that in the cage. I don’t want just use that all up in the gym. I want to showcase that on the main stage. I guess that’s why right now I’m really trying to get as many big fights as I can.”
How do you believe Rory MacDonald will fare doing double-duty in the middleweight and welterweight divisions in his next two fights?