When Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald and Jon Fitch stepped into the cage at Bellator 220 this past Saturday, it’s safe to say not many fans or pundits predicted it would end in a majority draw.
But that’s exactly how their main event scrap played out inside the SAP Center in San Jose.
While the outcome wasn’t how he envisioned it, and since he wasn’t technically defeated, the scorecards allowed MacDonald to keep his belt while punching his ticket into the semifinals, where he’ll take on Neiman Gracie at Bellator 222 in June.
As for the rest of the field, Douglas Lima and Michael Page, who are slated to meet in the other semi-final bout at Bellator 221, gave their take on the peculiar happenings on the other side of the bracket.
“I thought that Rory would have won because of damage,” Lima said during the Bellator 221 media call Tuesday. “I think Fitch did a great job of taking him down but he didn’t do much when he got on top. Rory dazed him a couple of times and hit him with more strikes. For me, a fight for me is about damage, not about scoring points. It’s a fight, we’re trying to finish the fight and do damage. So, for that reason, I thought Rory won the fight instead of a draw.”
Chiming in, while Page agreed with Lima’s assessment of MacDonald’s performance, he gave a slightly different take on the judges’ decision while questioning how the reigning champion was allowed to move on to the next round.
“I think depending on how the judges score fights depends on how you can look at that,” Page said. “If you are scoring it more as a point scoring thing then technically Fitch maybe just won that. But if you scoring it as a fight, which I agree with, then Rory did win that fight. It was a close one and I thought it would be. I just find it weird that he got through on a draw. I think, even if they have to bring in another judge to give a final decision, there have should been an actual winner. I don’t think you should go through on a draw. But I still think the right fighter went through anyway.”
While the initial talk surrounding MacDonald’s successful title defense stemmed from the judge’s scorecards, it quickly transitioned to his candid post-fight interview where fans heard him question whether his mentality and “spirit” inside the cage.
“I feel like God has really called me the last little while and, I don’t know,” MacDonald said. “He’s changed my spirit, changed my heart and it takes a certain spirit to come in here and put a man through pain and stuff and I don’t know if I have that same drive to hurt people anymore. I don’t know what it is but it’s confusing. I know the Lord has something in store for me, he was speaking to me in here tonight and, I don’t know, it’s a different feeling.
“I have to get out of here and reevaluate. We’ll see what happens. Tonight was a mix of emotions in here. I landed some good stuff but there was something different.”
For Lima and Page, this sudden revelation from their division’s champion was rather concerning.
“He’s got to make the decision right now,” Lima said. “I think that’s not a place for him to be if he wants to fight. I think he’s got to find himself and figure out what he wants to do. As far as fighting, I thought he looked great. He’s improved a lot better since his last fight. I believe he’s got a lot left in him, but it’s a decision that he’s going have to make. I hope he fights, I hope he finishes this tournament but it’s a decision he has to make.”
“It’s definitely not a place you’d want to be,” added Page. “You should never be doing our sport and be unsure about being there. It can be very dangerous at that point and it’s mainly dangerous when you have those hesitations in yourself. So, yeah, I’m sure technically he is skilled and ability will still probably carry him through. But you should said never put yourself in that scenario. I know if I’m at that stage then I would ask to quit.”
Lima (30-7) previously secured his place in the semifinals by putting an end to his trilogy with Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 206 in September, submitting the former champion halfway through the fifth round of their fight. This performance got him back into the win column after seeing MacDonald walk away with his belt following their back-and-forth war at Bellator 192. With this loss still fresh in his mind, “The Phenom” hopes MacDonald’s comments don’t signal an impending retirement.
“[I would be] a little disappointed for sure,” Lima said when asked how he’d feel about missing out a rematch with MacDonald. “That’s a fight that I would like to get the rematch since [the first fight] was so close and many of people thought I won. But, yeah, the title is definitely more important. My focus is to be a champion again and to get both of these belts, the tournament and the weight class. So, of course, I’m hoping [MacDonald] keeps going and everything goes good. That’s the final that I would like. I think it would be great. So, let’s see what happens. Hopefully, he finds himself and gets back in the tournament.”
Page (14-0), on the other hand, is coming off a narrow decision win over longtime rival Paul Daley at Bellator 216 in February. This win not only kept Page’s perfect record intact, it also marked his first five-round fight inside the Bellator cage, something “Venom” made sure to point out.
“Honestly, the only reason I want [MacDonald] to stay in the tournament is simply because he made us all do five rounds instead of three,” Page chuckled. “So, he might as well stay in for the whole journey. That’s the way I feel about it. If he wasn’t in the tournament then it’d a be a three-round tournament. So, if you’re going to make everyone do five rounds then don’t pull out. Stay there until the end.”
Lima and Page will look to continue on in the Grand Prix and secure the first spot in finals when they go to battle in the co-main event Bellator 221 on May 11 inside the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.