On August 14, 2022, Rory “the Red King” MacDonald, former UFC title challenger and Bellator Welterweight Champion announced that he was stepping away from MMA and calling it a career. The Canadian had just suffered a 1st round TKO the previous night at the hands of Dilano Taylor on PFL 8. The morning after his loss, Macdonald took to Instagram and announced the end of his 17-year MMA career that spanned many promotions.
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“My time has come to put the gloves down for good. I’m so thankful for this sport and every person I’ve been able to meet along the way…
I started this sport as a 14 yr old kid, I still remember my first day and knowing this is what I wanna spend my life doing. the passion for martial arts and becoming a pro MMA fighter gave me hope and a way to a better life! and I’m so thankful to God for putting that gym Toshido MMA in Kelowna in my path. it truly changed the direction of my life and saved me!…”
The Legacy that Rory MacDonald Leaves Behind
The Start of a New Generation of MMA Fighters
As most young fighters grew up training in just one type of martial art such as boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu, the “Red King” was part of the first generation to do all aspects of mixed martial arts. Macdonald had been doing MMA since he was just 14 years old. You could see those years of honing his skills in MacDonald’s contests. Well known for seamlessly combining wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and striking, MacDonald would bring in a very cerebral and well-rounded approach when he stepped into the octagon. This would mark the beginning of an era of fighters’ who came into the UFC having basics in every aspect of the sport. This is quite different from those fighters who came into MMA trained in just one type of martial arts and learned the other types of combat on the job. At just 20 years old, Rory MacDonald exploded into the UFC after spending 4 years with KOTC (King of the Cage) Canada.
One can not help but mention a certain fight when discussing Rory MacDonald. The fight of course is his instant classic title fight with then champion Robbie Lawler. This 2015 welterweight title showdown would be a rematch of their first fight that happened in 2013. Many were expecting a memorable UFC 189 to be a great card since it was an annual International Fight Week card and Conor McGregor was going to be the main event of the PPV. Lawler and MacDonald traveled along doing many press conferences and media events leading up to the fight since McGregor was headlining the card. In contrast to the drama that the main event was going through, the pair of welterweights were very quiet but every time they came together the intensity personified.
On July 11, 2015, the performance of Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler would exceed all expectations for this fight as they delivered what would become the fight of the year and some say of all time. Their first fight was tense and competitive, but their rematch would have swings of momentum that were only seen in movies. After Lawler damaged the nose of Macdonald in the second round, Macdonald would rally back in the third by rocking Lawler with a head kick and battering him with punches. He then did the same thing again in the fourth round adding in elbows and knees onto his assault on Lawler. The champion survived, despite almost being finished twice, to land one final left hand to the nose of Macdonald which created a TKO victory and a title defense. Macdonald gave a hall of the fame-worthy fight, one that many people always look back on when thinking of the definition of a fighter. Not only did this fight produce a great showcase for the sport, but it also created a moment that made people become fans of MMA and fans of the Red King.
The British Columbia native was always an excellent representative of the sport. Always being respectful of the opponents who were put in front of him, you would never hear MacDonald yelling or shouting at his opponent during press conferences. However, once the cage door closed, the “Red King” would stare at his opponent with cold eyes and had his hands up during the referee’s instructions showing he was ready to fight. MacDonald had an attitude that drove him to fight whoever or wherever he could test himself against. MacDonald had fought some of the who’s who in the welterweight division, not just in the UFC but in the sport as a whole. Not only did he fight UFC greats like Tyron Woodley, Carlos Condit, BJ Penn, Demian Maia, and Robbie Lawler, but he also fought fighters who held titles in other organizations such as Tarec Saffiedine and Douglas Lima. MacDonald would often be called “the next GSP” because of his association with the Canadian legend as a training partner. Nonetheless, Rory MacDonald has created a unique legacy solely of his own accord because of his work inside and outside of the cage.