The Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix will continue to move along with the last quarterfinal bout to be reserved, and I will offer my thoughts on this brand 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 from the quarterfinals of this Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix when he takes on Jon Fitch in a yet-to-be-named event set for April 27 in San Jose, California. Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com broke the news. Here is the fourth and final quarterfinal bout in the tournament. Douglas Lima beat Andrey Koreshkov in their trilogy struggle and Nieman Gracie upset Ed Ruth in the other quartefinal matchups completed thus far, together with the Michael Page vs. Paul Daley fight set to take place in February. The winner of MacDonald vs. Fitch will take on Gracie on that side of the bracket’s semifinals, while Lima will fight the winer of Page vs. Daley.
MacDonald (20-5) is 2-1 thus much in Bellator. In his first two Bellator fights, he looked like one of the best fighters in the world as he submitted Daley and then beat Lima over five rounds to win the welterweight title. He then moved up in weight in his final bout when he took on Gegard Mousasi in his bid to be a rare Bellator double champion. But MacDonald got defeated in that struggle, losing via second-round TKO. MacDonald will have had six months between the Mousasi and Fitch fights, so he ought to be good to go health-wise. However, the fact that he took so much damage against Mousasi is worrisome. Then again, MacDonald was fighting a weight class for the first time. At welterweight, he’s clearly among the very best on the planet, and he even owns a dominant win over current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Fitch (31-7-1) has made a run at the dusk of his profession. Now 40, Fitch is riding a five-fight win series at the moment which includes a dominant win over Daley within his Bellator debut. As well, Fitch holds notable wins over Jake Shields and Yushin Okami during his latest win streak, 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’s no longer one of the game’s elite welterweights such as he had been a decade ago, but he still has a solid wrestling base that can get him his hand raised.
That being said, this really is MacDonald’s struggle to lose. He must have the takedown defense to keep the fight on the toes, and at the standup there’s no question MacDonald is the superior fighter. Fitch hasn’t won a fight by knockout since 2006, so he seems to have no path to success in this bout if he can’t get it to the ground. Despite the loss to Mousasi, I would nevertheless peg MacDonald around a -500 favorite to defend his belt against Fitch and proceed on to the next round of this championship.
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