Bellator president Scott Coker announced last week that a first-round heavyweight Grand Prix bout between Chael Sonnen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will instead top the card. Coker is considering the two bouts a “double main event.”
MacDonald said he won’t let the decision get to his head, nor will he continue to think about it, but at first, he was “disappointed” about the main-event switch.
“Every time you fight for a world championship fighters take pride. it’s a special moment to be a main event for a world title fight,” MacDonald said at Bellator 192 open workouts Wednesday (via MMAFighting.com). “It’s an unfortunate part of it, but I’m not going to let it take my focus away from what my job is and getting that title.”
MacDonald said he wasn’t even informed by Bellator about the change up.
“It was totally out of the blue. I didn’t see it coming,” said the former UFC welterweight challenger, who’s 1-0 in Bellator. “I found out through an interview. I didn’t even find out from anyone from Bellator or anything like that so it was a total shocker.”
MacDonald isn’t exactly sure why “Rampage” vs. Sonnen was moved into main-event status last minute, but he thinks it has something to do with “ratings.” Coker confirmed that Paramount Network — not Bellator — had the final call.
“I think they don’t want people turning the channel if the fight before me is not good,” he said. “That’s what I got.”
The Canadian contender said he understands the network’s decision, but insists MMA should be more about sport than entertainment.
“Newer fans are expecting drama and half the entertainment for them is the build-up, the drama between the guys and less so the martial arts aspect of it. I’m focused on the martial arts. I’m not a dramatic guy,” MacDonald said. “And I get it, but the main focus should be on the martial arts and the way the fighters are going about it in the cage rather than so much outside.”
A Paramount Network executive explained the decision at the Bellator 192 pre-fight press conference Thursday. Jon Slusser said that the plan is to have all heavyweight Grand Prix bouts to headline tentpole shows and for them to stand out among the event’s undercard.
“We’ll creatively differentiate the main event card and the grand prix in many different ways,” Slusser said (via MMAFighting.com). “We want this creative differentiation to make the heavyweight grand prix feel like a separate and unique event to the audience and that’s why it ends the night.
“It’ll make sense to you, because what we’re doing is really creating another — it’s like a show in a show. It’s an event within the event. And we’re really creatively differentiating between these two things in a big, big way. You’ll see it Saturday and we’ll give you all the surprises, but I know it’ll be a great time and it’ll be a very, very entertaining night.”
Bellator 192 takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, California on Saturday night.