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Rory MacDonald opts for less sponsorship money in Bellator debut compared to UFC run

The idea goes something like this: When a fighter jumps from the UFC to Bellator, they’re likely to have their in-cage sponsorship money increase.

As the theory goes, this is because, rather than receive a flat payment through the UFC’s athlete outfitting policy, fighters are free to pursue their own sponsorships, and potentially make more money than they would in the UFC’s corporate structure.

Rory MacDonald, however, says he won’t make as much money with his sponsors in Bellator than he had been making in his old company, at least for his Bellator 179 main event on Friday against Paul Daley.

MacDonald explained on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that rather than hustle every last inch of his trunks and corner banner to any flight-by-night sponsor who comes his way, he’d rather take a short-term hit now and work to build a longer-term relationship with an established brand down the road.

“I could have easily went out and got plastered sponsors all over my shorts and banner and stuff and got little sponsors for the fight,” MacDonald said. “But basically what I’m going out there is for long-term, marquee sponsorships that are going to be solid name brands that are going represent me and I represent them well and be a long-term partnership.”

For now that means Bellator 179 sponsorships with established brands Monster Energy and Everlast, and he hopes more down the road.

“Give those sponsors big exposure, rather than be clustered and totally packed full of a bunch of different random companies that don’t have any connection to me whatsoever,” MacDonald said. “That’s the strategy, there.”

In the meantime, MacDonald confirmed that his individual sponsorship with Reebok, signed in 2015, has expired and was not renewed. MacDonald spoke well of his relationship with Reebok, noting they could have legally cut the deal short when he signed with Bellator, but allowed is contract to run its full duration.

“They were nice enough to continue the sponsorship after I had signed with Bellator even though they weren’t obligated to,” MacDonald said. “They stuck by my side. We had a great partnership, we had a great deal.”

All in all, MacDonald isn’t letting a little bit of sponsorship money get in the way of the big picture.

“I’m definitely very happy with what I’m going to be making for my time in Bellator,” he said. “Even if my sponsorships are a little bit down, it’s not a big deal for me. I’m looking at a big upside and I’m very happy with it.”

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