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Bellator 222 live blog: Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie

Rory MacDonald and Neiman Gracie
Rory MacDonald and Neiman Gracie will clash in the Bellator 222 main event Friday.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This is the Bellator 222 live blog for Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie, a Bellator welterweight title fight at Friday’s Bellator event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

MacDonald, who is 2-2-1 in his last five fights, will face Gracie, who is 9-0 in his career, in the co-main event.

The winner of this fight will face Douglas Lima in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix final.

Check out the Bellator 222 live blog.

Round 1:
 MacDonald comes out and takes the center of the cage, pumping the jab. Gracie lands a good leg kick. MacDonald already looks more engage than he did against Fitch, Gracie goes for his first shot but is instantly stuffed by MacDonald. Gracie lands a couple of good leg kicks. Gracie walks his way into the clinch but gets shucked off quickly. MacDonald keeps working a stiff jab. MacDonald slips on a kick attempt but pops right back up. Gracie is switching stances, trying to find a way in. He eats a right hand for his troubles. Gracie throws a body kick that gets caught and MacDonald glances a left hound counter. Gracie is jabbing back with MacDonald and still throwing those kicks. The round ends without much else happening.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 MacDonald.

Round 2: The second round starts with Gracie looking a little more energetic. Gracie lands a good low kick and then get a trip takedown and is in MacDonald’s half guard. Now Gracie is going for a leg lock and MacDonald stands up and throws a big shot. Gracie transitions to a knee bar but MacDonald is able to slip out to the crowd’s dismay. Gracie immediately presses forward into a clinch and after some pummeling gets the champion up the the fence. MacDonald tries to explode out but cannot and now Gracie has a back bodylock. He tries to drag MacDonald down but the champion counters and ends up on top. Gracis is in full guard and MacDonald is looking to land elbows and punches. Gracie is doing a good job of tying up but isn’t threatening much. The grind continues and then MacDonald postures up and lands a big right hand. He postures against and attempts a pass but cannot. The round ends with MacDonald in Gracie’s full guard.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 MacDonald (20-18 overall).

Round 3: The third round starts with Gracie pressuring. MacDonald is checking those low kicks now and lands a good right hand. And another. Gracie’s left eye is starting to swell up. A front kick from MacDonald lands, pushing Gracie back. A stepping elbow from MacDonald lands. Gracie takes a shot from way outside and gets stuffed. Brief guillotine from MacDonald before he slams Gracie down hard. Now the champion is on top and lands a pair of big left hands but Gracie recomposes guard. Not much happens for awhile and then suddenly Gracie explodes into an armbar attempt to a flower sweep and then back to an armbar that gets locked in but MacDonald is game and rolls through, ending up back on top after the brief scare. MacDonald then punishes Gracie for trying with a right-left combo from guard. The round ends and Gracie is having moments but not nearly enough of them.

MMAFighting score the round 10-9 MacDonald (30-27 overall)

Round 4: Gracie likely needs a finish to claim the title and he comes out pressing the action. A pair of sharp right hands from the champion slow that though. Gracie lands a decent overhand right and a pair of jabs. Gracie’s jab is not bad but he’s not building off it. A power double from Gracie and MacDonald nearly reveres to mount but after a scramble Gracie ends up in a back bodylock. Now he’s get one hook in against the fence but his body position is high and MacDonald is looking to sneak out the back door. Gracie manages to break MacDonald down though and gets a body triangle but MacDonald does a great job of turning and now is in Gracie’s full guard. Gracie again ties up while the champion chips away with short shots. MacDonald postures and lands some big shots when Gracie opens up to attack. The round ends.

MMAFighting scores the fight 10-9 MacDonald (40-36 overall).

Round 5: Both fighters come out with some urgency in the final frame. After MacDonald lands a few punches, Gracie charges forward on a takedown and gets the champion against the fence with a bodylock. After some struggling he is able to get MacDonald down and he’s in top half guard. Gracie steps over to mount and now we’ve got something cooking. Both men are being patient here and MacDonald is waiting to explode. Gracie is not posturing, trying to lock up and arm-triangle choke that MacDonald sees coming. The champion is staying composed and Gracie is taking his time, perhaps too much time. MacDonald fights the hips and gets back into halfguard. He’s now working and underhook to standup but Gracie is staying heavy. MacDonald is able to get back to butterfly guard and he ties Gracie up. With only a minute left, Gracie needs to go for broke. Instead, MacDonald recomposes full guard and Gracie’s best chance of the fight is no more. Gracie drops back for a heel with 20 seconds left but there isn’t enough time and MacDonald looked like he would be fine anyway.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Gracie and the fight 49-46 for MacDonald.

Official result: Rory MacDonald defeats Neiman Gracie via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

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