Bellator MMA returns this weekend, and to celebrate its return to Madison Square Garden, the US’s second biggest MMA organisation has put together a notably impressive card featuring both up-and-coming talent and veterans looking for a last shot at glory. And then there’s Rory MacDonald.
MacDonald defected to Bellator in 2016 in a huge coup for the promotion. Widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the world, albeit one who had fallen just short of a world title, few expected MacDonald to leave the UFC. In making the move to a rival organisation, MacDonald reminded everyone that there was more than one game in town.
Since then MacDonald has not had everything his own way, and has thus far failed in his stated ambition to become the Bellator champion at Welter- and Middleweight. Nonetheless, no one doubts his talent. This weekend he will take on Neiman Gracie in the semi-final of a Grand Prix tournament to crown a new division champ. SkyBet has MacDonald a strong favourite at 4/7, with Gracie at 5/4.
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Also on the bill is Chael Sonnen who will be taking on Lyoto Machida. Though both fighters are certainly past their best, their charisma and legacies will ensure considerable interest. Sonnen in particular has maintained fan-interest due to his way with words and canny marketing persona. On the match-up with Machida, he said, “in my mind we settled this debate of wrestlers vs. karate guys in 1993… but he stuck around, and that’s a credit to him. Somehow he’s found a way to make a sport that sucks effective.”
SkyBet has Sonnen an underdog at 9/4 with Machida at 1/3.