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UFC exec on Rory MacDonald: 'We encourage him' to enter free agency

With UFC welterweight contender Rory MacDonald set to become a free agent after Saturday's main event against Stephen Thompson, UFC executive Tom Wright addressed the Canadian's impending negotiating period.

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Tomorrow's UFC Fight Night 89 main event between Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson is a hugely important contest in the welterweight division, but the bigger storyline has everything to do with the future of MacDonald. This is the final fight of his current UFC contract, and as he's stated in the past, he intends to test the free agent market.

In a year which has seen Aljamain Sterling stay in the UFC, whereas Ben Henderson and Matt Mitrione headed to Bellator, free agency has been a major headline for the UFC over the past year. With MacDonald's future in the Octagon uncertain, the most prominent active Canadian fighter may be heading elsewhere. In an interview with MMAjunkie, Tom Wright, Executive VP and General Manager for UFC Operations in Canada (as well as Australia and New Zealand), said that the UFC is supportive of MacDonald's choice.

"I think we're all about making sure we've got as many great Rory MacDonald's in every part of the world because clearly he's a great fighter, he's a great competitor, he's a great representative of our sport," Wright said. "But in the end, it's Rory's decision, and we encourage him to go into the open market. That's something he's certainly entitled to do, and we would encourage him to do so."

"In the end we're just looking forward to sitting down with him after and having a good conversation," Wright said. "He wants to put on a big performance and then fight for the UFC championship belt. So, we'll wait and see what happens. But what Rory does is up to him, and we'll support whatever he decides."

UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson airs live on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday, June 18th at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT. This will be the 5th time that MacDonald has fought on a Canadian-based UFC show, and it'd be the 2nd time he's headlined a card in Canada.