Rory MacDonald’s young adult life was about fighting and only fighting, but he found a renewed sense of purpose over the last several years.
MacDonald dropped by the Pull No Punches podcast with longtime friend Kajan Johnson and Bloody Elbow’s Shakiel Mahjouri ahead of his headlining fight with Jon Fitch at Bellator 220 on DAZN. “I remember watching in the dressing room of your fight against Carlos Condit at UFC Vancouver,” Johnson told the Bellator welterweight champion. “You were reading your bible, you had all these different pages marked. You were very devout at that point. For a while, when I was in Montreal, I didn’t see much of it. You seemed to have lost it,” Johnson continued. “It really seems like you have rediscovered your faith.”
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” MacDonald replied. “When you had seen me before my Carlos fight, I was hungry for God but with no guidance and no church. No good influence. I really didn’t have any answers.”
“Shortly after the Carlos fight I ended up moving to Montreal. I still had no church or anyone Godly around me,” he continued. “I had no community around me and I didn’t know where to search.” MacDonald, who describes himself as a Christian raised Catholic, found himself shifting farther and farther away from his faith. “Slowly, slowly I started getting pulled away from it by doing what people do: going partying, living life for myself.”
MacDonald’s complete attention was on his fighting career. He was at the peak of his MMA journey, putting together wins over the likes of Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia culminating in a Fight of the Year title shot against Robbie Lawler. MacDonald was “doing what pleased me and going through the motions of just being a fighter,” he explained. “I was a fighter first. Training, having fun and fighting. I had no other worries.”
“Years down the road, after I fought Robbie Lawler [in July 2015], I met my wife-to-be, Olivia,” he shared. MacDonald was dealing with the repercussions from what some would consider a career-altering Fight of the Year at the time. Just as he was recovering from the most significant loss of his professional career, he began to mend his faith.
“As we were growing together, she invited me to go to church,” MacDonald said of his wife. “I had heard so many criticisms of God, so I had my guard up big time. I had a hard heart. I went in there very skeptical of everyone and what was being said. To be honest, I really liked what was being said.”
The service immediately clicked with MacDonald and he was instantly immersed in a relationship with God. “I had my hunger back for God,” MacDonald exclaimed.
MacDonald moved to Bellator the same year he was baptized, earning back-to-back wins over Paul Daley and Douglas Lima. He fell short in his bid to become a two-divisional champion against Gegard Mousasi, but MacDonald’s mindset has had a big impact on the mental aspect of his MMA game. He now fights and trains with a heightened sense of purpose. “I’m just really stoked on life right now,” he expressed.
For MacDonald, MMA is the perfect environment to be himself. “I’ve met every walk of life through martial arts,” he shared. “Mixed martial arts is a melding pot of everyone. Cultures and faiths and ideas and backgrounds. People come from hard backgrounds to people who have been very blessed. It’s been very cool to experience that.”
Bellator 220 airs on DAZN and takes place at the SAP Center in San Jose, California on Saturday, April 27. Keep up with Bloody Elbow for live highlights, updates, and results on all of the night’s action.