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Rory MacDonald on the difficulties of MMA: ‘We don’t have anything like the Ali Act’

While Rory Mac doesn’t have anything bad to say about his time fighting for the UFC or Bellator, the current PFL fighter is making no bones about the fact that it’s difficult to make good money in MMA.

Bellator 192: Lima v MacDonald Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Even at the still young age of 30, Rory MacDonald has become one of MMA’s longstanding veterans. The Tristar talent out of Montreal has found great success under the bright lights, fighting for both the UFC and, more recently, Bellator—where he picked up the promotion’s welterweight championship.

Delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, MacDonald is still awaiting the start of the next chapter in his combat sports career—with the Professional Fighters League. His move to the PFL came shortly after losing his Bellator title in a rematch against Douglas Lima back in October of last year. That loss capped off his original 6-fight deal with the Paramount Network promotion—one that the ‘Red King’ was surprised to find Bellator uninterested in extending.

Having been through the negotiation wringer with several different front offices now, MacDonald recently spoke to MMA Junkie, where he imparted some of the wisdom he’s gained along the way—along with his view of the difficulties in creating a lucrative career out of mixed martial arts.

“It’s a tough spot,” MacDonald said, in reference to UFC athletes demanding a greater share of the promotion’s revenue. “You’re in a tough business of being a professional mixed martial artist. Most of the money is going to the promotion. We don’t have anything like the Ali Act that’s protecting us in getting, you know, fair distribution of the money that’s coming from these events. So in the current situation, the current market, you pretty much have to fend for yourself is what I see.”

MacDonald went on to note that he spent much of his time with the UFC focused on becoming champion. Under the impression that once he did so, the money would follow. Instead, despite becoming a notable feature talent for the promotion, “ just seemed the increments of when I got to the next contract, it wasn’t going anywhere substantial for me.” A realization that led MacDonald to fight out his UFC deal and test free agency, ultimately landing with Bellator.

Even while he’s parted ways with past employers, however, MacDonald gave one clear piece of advice for other fighters who might look to follow in his footsteps. In his mind, it’s always best to leave your relationships on good terms.

“Every time there’s a contract negotiation it’s best not to burn bridges with different promoters,” MacDonald cautioned. “You want to keep a good relationship with everybody. Talking bad about a promoter is not going to do you any favors seven years down the road talking to different promotions and see who wants to bring you in again. So I always try to be respectful to the promoters and work together and make a deal that works for everyone.”

MacDonald had been set to debut with the PFL in 2020, unfortunately, due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, the promotion has since cancelled it’s entire event calendar for the year. Fans hoping to see him fight again soon will likely have to wait until 2021 to see Rory MacDonald back in the cage.

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