Rory MacDonald might not fight again for almost a year, but he took a few jabs at his former promoter Friday night.
At his introductory press conference, MacDonald took the UFC to task for making MMA "boring," pinpointing the promotion's Reebok uniforms specifically. The presser took place following Bellator 160 in Anaheim. MacDonald signed with Bellator last week.
MacDonald, 27, said Bellator MMA places a premium on individuality and entertainment, unlike the UFC, which signed an apparel deal with Reebok last year that makes every fighter wear similar gear inside the Octagon.
"The production of the show, it just stands out right away," MacDonald said of Bellator. "The big screens, the entrances. They do it bigger. They do it right here. It's a fight show here. They want to promote a fighter, they want to build it. It's not generic where everyone is wearing the same thing. We get to be our own individual self, promote ourselves. Where I was before, everyone is wearing the same uniforms now, we're all walking out of the same, boring dressing room or the gate. It's boring. People are tired of that."
MacDonald (18-4) was a free agent after his loss to Stephen Thompson in June. The Canadian star said the UFC made him an offer, but did not match the offer Bellator proposed to him. Bellator president Scott Coker said the signing became official Friday.
"It's been a long time in the making," MacDonald said. "I've had a lot to consider probably over a year. We've been in talks with Bellator for a long time now. It's gone back and forth with the UFC. We've put a great deal together. We're gonna build a great business together. Bellator believes in me; I believe in the company. We're gonna take it to the next level. We're gonna take over."
"The Red King" said he probably won't have his first Bellator fight until the summer of 2017. He's still healing the broken nose he first injured in his UFC welterweight title fight with Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 in July 2015. He broke the nose after that in training and again in the fight with Thompson.
When he does return to the cage, it'll probably be in his home country of Canada, Coker said.
"We're gonna take Bellator into Canada and we're gonna do it big," MacDonald said. "We're gonna reinvigorate that market. Those fans are gonna get a proper fight show again."
MacDonald made $59,000 for that title fight with Lawler and that changed his way of thinking about MMA. Before, he just wanted to fight as often as possible against the best fighters in the world. After that sum in a very violent and possibly life-altering fight, MacDonald became more of a businessman, he said.
The Reebok deal and the UFC's sale for $4 billion also played into this decision, MacDonald added.
"The tide is turning," he said. "For me, that title fight against Robbie was an eye-opener. It was like, OK we got to the show where you wanted to go, it didn't work out, but now it's time to start making some money."
MacDonald seems to be doing that in Bellator and he said there were other factors, too. One of them is Bellator's commitment to promoting him as a top star and not just another cog in the machine.
"You walk into that cage like every single other person out there on the roster," MacDonald said of the UFC. "You're basically like a robot walking into the cage with the same jersey on, there's no difference between this guy and that guy. It's boring, I find it. It's very plain. I understand where they're trying to go with it, but that's just not fight sport. There's no personality there."