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Bellator President Scott Coker: Rory MacDonald’s contract not expired

Bellator is in “dialogue” with Rory MacDonald on a new contract. But MacDonald isn’t quite free of the previous one.

Bellator President Scott Coker said MacDonald’s current contract isn’t “expired,” as the ex-welterweight champ reported following a loss to Douglas Lima at Bellator 232.

MacDonald told reporters he had to “re-sign” with Bellator before entertaining a third fight with Lima. Coker indicated it’s more complicated than that, though he declined to elaborate on MacDonald’s current deal.

”Rory’s contract has not expired, and we have remaining rights,” Coker told MMA Fighting.

Although the specifics of MacDonald’s contract aren’t known, almost all long-term MMA contracts contain clauses that allow a promoter to keep a fighter in the fold after obligations have been fulfilled. First among those is an exclusive negotiation period – frequently 90 days in duration – that allows a promoter the sole right to hammer out a new deal. After that, a matching period allows the fighter to entertain offers from other promoters. The original promoter is then allowed the right to match or refuse those offers.

Questions hovered around MacDonald’s future following his loss to Lima, who avenged a previous title setback with a decision win in the Bellator welterweight grand prix. MacDonald said he was open to a trilogy fight, but he said contract negotiations would come first.

”It’s kind of inevitable that we’ll probably fight again,” he told MMA Junkie. “I wouldn’t say no. If they want to do it, they can do it. First I’ve got to re-sign. My contract expired. We’ve got to deal with that situation. Obviously if they want to give a title shot, sure.”

Coker said he’s very open to keeping MacDonald in the fold despite the recent loss to Lima.

”I think he’s a great fighter,” he said. “I think he’s probably the No. 2 welterweight in our roster, so yeah, we would love to. But we’ll see.”

MacDonald signed with Bellator in 2016 after fighting out his contract with the UFC, which declined to match the Viacom-owned promotion’s offer. Bellator has snapped up several high-profile UFC vets who’ve entered free agency.

Prior to his loss to Lima, MacDonald endured a hard road before and during the welterweight grand prix. He failed to capture the middleweight title then held by Gegard Mousasi, and he questioned his desire to fight after fighting Jon Fitch to a controversial draw in his quarterfinal bout. He later walked back that sentiment and returned to defend his belt against Neiman Gracie in the semifinals.

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