Rory MacDonald hopes to make the most of his potential run as Bellator double champ by actually defending both titles. But of course, he has to win the second one first.
MacDonald, the Bellator welterweight champion, has an opportunity to become Bellator’s first two-division titleholder on Saturday at Bellator 206 when he faces middleweight champ Gegard Mousasi in a highly-anticipated superfight.
Beating Mousasi doesn’t make it a given that the Canadian would hold onto both titles for long. Conor McGregor was stripped of his featherweight title just weeks after winning the UFC lightweight championship in 2016, and current two-division UFC champ Daniel Cormier’s run at the top of 205 pounds might soon be coming to an end.
MacDonald said Thursday at Bellator 206 media day that in an ideal world, he’d be able to defend both titles. But he is committed to the upcoming welterweight grand prix, which officially begins at Saturday’s event, so he’s not exactly sure what will end up happening.
“I would like to,” MacDonald told MMAWeekly.com when asked about defending both titles. “I’d have to talk with Bellator because I have the obligation of doing the welterweight tournament and that’s going to take about a year. I’m sure that the other middleweights are going to want a crack at the championship fight so I guess we’re going to have to see.
“If I became the middleweight champion, I would prefer to stay that way. I wouldn’t want to get stripped but I understand I have an obligation at welterweight doing that tournament. We’ll see.”
MacDonald is scheduled to face Jon Fitch in the opening round of the tournament sometime early next year. He will be defending his belt throughout the tournament until he either wins it or is eliminated.
Bellator president Scott Coker isn’t against MacDonald holding onto the middleweight title while he participates in the tournament, but he has yet to come to any conclusions either.
“Rory will enter the 170-pound tournament after his fight with Gegard so we’ll talk to Rory and see how he felt and a lot of it will depends on what the fighter wants to do,” Coker told MMAWeekly.com. “That door is open and we’re not going to close it.”
Both 2-0 in Bellator, MacDonald won the welterweight title in January with a hard-fought decision over Douglas Lima. Mousasi claimed Bellator gold more recently, in May, against Rafael Carvalho. Neither have defended their respective titles.
Bellator 206 takes place at SAP Center in San Jose and also features a fourth fight between Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva. The welterweight grand prix kicks off with a trilogy between former champs Lima and Andrey Koreshkov.