Rory MacDonald was one fight away from fighting for another welterweight championship and $1 million in prize money. He advanced to the semifinals of the Professional Fighters League (PFL) welterweight tournament and encountered a former champion in Ray Cooper III, who dominated MacDonald en route to a unanimous decision win at the 2021 PFL playoffs last week.
MacDonald did not immediately respond to the loss that led to his elimination from the tournament, but has since released a statement on social media and revealed one of the reasons why his performance was not up to par. He also vowed to come back stronger and committed to returning to competition under the PFL banner next year.
“Happy to be home with my family after spending 6 weeks apart,” wrote MacDonald on Instagram. “Being away from them for that long really affected me & showed me how much we need to be together for me to be at my best.
“I’ll be taking a few weeks off to enjoy relaxing at home with family and use the time to start planning my comeback for my 2nd season in [PFL].”
The former UFC welterweight title challenger and Bellator champion signed a multi-fight deal with PFL almost two years ago and had to wait awhile before he made his promotional debut against Curtis Millender at PFL 2. He submitted Millender with a rear-naked choke in the first round and earned six points to secure his spot in the playoffs.
MacDonald returned just two months later to take on another fellow former UFC fighter in Gleison Tibau at PFL 5, where he completely controlled the Brazilian veteran for three rounds. Despite his impressive performance, MacDonald would surprisingly lose the fight to Tibau by way of split decision, which stirred up a lot of controversy in the mixed martial arts community. He was still able to advance to the semifinals against the aforementioned Cooper, but did so fresh off of the loss to Tibau.