The Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix will continue to proceed together with the past quarterfinal bout to be reserved, and I’ll give my thoughts on this new matchup in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch, Bellator
Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald will put his belt on the line in the quarterfinals of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix when he takes on Jon Fitch at a yet-to-be-named event set for April 27 at San Jose, California. Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com broke the news. This is the fourth and final quarterfinal bout at the tournament. Douglas Lima beat Andrey Koreshkov in their trilogy fight and Nieman Gracie upset Ed Ruth at another quartefinal matchups completed thus far, together with the Michael Page vs. Paul Daley fight set to occur in February. The winner of MacDonald vs. Fitch will take on Gracie on that side of the bracket’s semifinals, while Lima will combat the winer of Page vs. Daley.
MacDonald (20-5) is 2-1 so far in Bellator. In his first two Bellator fights, he looked like one of the best fighters on the planet as he submitted Daley and then beat Lima over five rounds to win the welterweight title. He then moved up in weight in his last bout when he took on Gegard Mousasi in his bid to be a rare Bellator double winner. But MacDonald got crushed in that struggle, losing via second-round TKO. MacDonald will have had six months between the Mousasi and Fitch fights, therefore he should be good to go health-wise. But the fact he took so much damage against Mousasi is painful. Then again, MacDonald was battling a weight class for the first time. At welterweight, he’s definitely among the very best on the planet, and he owns a dominant win over present UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Fitch (31-7-1) has quietly made a run in the twilight of his career. Currently 40, Fitch is riding a five-fight win streak at the moment which comprises a dominant win over Daley within his Bellator debut. At the same time, Fitch holds noteworthy wins over Jake Shields and Yushin Okami during his latest win series, and he was the PFL welterweight champion before signing with Bellator. Since becoming cut from the UFC at 2013, Fitch has gone 7-2 in WSOF, PFL and Bellator. He is no longer one of the sport’s elite welterweights such as he was a decade ago, but he has a solid wrestling base that can get him his hands raised.
Having said that, this really is MacDonald’s struggle to lose. He must have the takedown defense to maintain the fight on the feet, and in the standup there’s no wonder MacDonald is the exceptional fighter. Fitch hasn’t won a fight by knockout since 2006, therefore he appears to have no path to victory in this bout if he can not get it into the floor. Despite the reduction to Mousasi, I would still peg MacDonald around a -500 favorite to defend his belt against Fitch and proceed on to the next round of the championship.
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