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Rory MacDonald embracing violent fights heading into Bellator run: ‘I’m a rough guy’

UFC 189 photos
Rory MacDonald plans on simplifying his preparation more heading into his run with Bellator.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Rory MacDonald will still take an easy, effortless win over anything else. No one truly wants to get hit in the face multiple times, of course.

However, MacDonald is beginning to embrace his reputation as a fighter capable of violent performances, he told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “The Red King” plans on less over-complication in his preparation heading into his run with Bellator.

“Who wouldn’t want a dominant performance?” MacDonald said. “That’s what I’m shooting for. I’m fighting the best guys in the world. … I would be a fool to think I wouldn't leave with a little blood and a few scrapes here and there. You’ve gotta learn how to like that stuff. I’m a rough guy and I like it when fights get tough.”

MacDonald (18-4) said his thirst for martial arts knowledge over the years has led to a diversification in his game, that maybe has not always been a good thing. The Canadian welterweight plans on simplifying things, heading into a fight with Paul Daley at Bellator 179 on May 19. That means focusing on less of what his opponent is good at and more of what MacDonald himself does well.

“I’m gonna step back from that and focus on my strengths and apply them in my fights,” MacDonald said. “And not give a sh*t what everybody else’s strength is. I’m just gonna go in there and wreck people with what I know.”

MacDonald, 27, was in multiple bloody wars in the UFC, most notably a fifth-round TKO loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189, which is regarded as one of the most violent MMA fights of all time. MacDonald suffered a broken nose in that fight and it manifested itself again in a loss to Stephen Thompson last June. MacDonald planned on taking a full year off to let the nose heal and has not sparred since that training camp for Thompson.

When the Daley fight was offered to him for May, though, MacDonald did not say no. He went with his gut, he said, and accepted the bout. Initially, he also wanted his Bellator debut to be in a welterweight title fight.

“That’s what I was pushing for,” MacDonald said. “It was looking like that. But it’s all about timing. This just happened to fit properly. This is a No. 1 contender fight. It’s possible that my very next fight will be for the title.”

Daley called out MacDonald after a vicious knockout of Brennan Ward at Bellator 170 last month. MacDonald said he watched that fight and enjoyed it. He felt like the time was right to re-enter the cage.

“It’s really feeling like back to normal now, having how many months I’ve given it off,” MacDonald said of his nose. “I felt like everything’s gonna be fine by end of May, so I took the fight.”

MacDonald has wins over some huge names, like current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Nate Diaz and BJ Penn. No one would dispute that MacDonald remains one of the best 170 pounders in the world. Still, MacDonald is going into his time with Bellator with a chip on his shoulder. He also said he could take some fights at 185 pounds to keep busy.

The one knock against MacDonald from critics is all the damage he has taken in a career that began 12 years ago when he was just 16 years old.

“I guess i’ll just have to go and prove them wrong in this fight,” MacDonald said. “It kind of excites me to be somewhat of an underdog again. I like wearing those shoes. It should be fun just to see everyone’s faces after this fight or after a couple anyway

“I want to prove a point. Absolutely. I’m going there to prove a point, to show people what’s up and who I really am. I think they’re gonna see a big change and they’re gonna be happily surprised.”

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