MMA fighter Rory MacDonald is retiring

Canadian welterweight, UFC Title fighter and Bellator Champion Rory (Red King) MacDonald has retired from mixed martial arts.

The 33-year-old from Kelowna, BC, who now makes his home in Montreal, made the announcement via social media following his upset first-round loss on Saturday to Dilano (The Postman) Taylor, a late substitute opponent in the semifinals of the Professional Fighters League in Cardiff, Wales.

“My time has come to take off the gloves for good,” MacDonald wrote. “I’m so thankful for this sport and everyone I’ve met along the way.”

Taylor was a third-choice substitute who stepped in on Thursday after MacDonald’s original opponent, undefeated Russia’s Magomed Umalatov, was unable to enter the UK due to visa problems.

Losing to Taylor, MacDonald’s fourth in his last five fights, dropped his record to 23-10-1. And it prompted the father of two to retire.

MacDonald belonged to a new generation of mixed martial artists, an athlete who took up the sport rather than transitioning into it from wrestling or boxing. He honed his skills under David Lea at Toshido MMA in Kelowna and continued to spend time with him even after moving to Montreal and making Tristar his main studio.

He was considered the eventual successor to former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre, with whom he trained in Montreal.

“I started this sport as a 14-year-old kid,” wrote MacDonald. “I still remember my first day and I know that’s what I want to spend my life doing. Passion for martial arts and becoming a professional MMA fighter gave me hope and a path to a better life. And I’m so grateful to God for putting Toshido MMA in Kelowna in my path.

“It really changed the direction of my life and saved me.”

St-Pierre wished MacDonald well in his retirement.

“New beginnings for you and the best of your life is yet to come,” said St-Pierre, who quit the sport in February 2019.

“One of the best ever,” wrote Patrick (The Predator) Cote, another retired UFC fighter from Quebec.

“An absolute warrior,” said Bellator President Scott Coker.

MacDonald fought veteran (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler for the title at UFC 189 in July 2015 in a rematch of their UFC 167 bout in November 2013 when the Canadian lost a split decision.

Lawler stopped MacDonald early in the fifth round of a brutal, bloody title fight.

Both fighters were severely punished, with Lawler barely surviving the third round. MacDonald’s nose was badly damaged during the fight, which Lawler eventually ended with a large left hand straight into MacDonald’s face, who fell to the canvas in agony.

MacDonald hoped to become the third Canadian UFC champion, joining St-Pierre and Carlos Newton, who held the same welterweight belt for six months in 2001.

MacDonald fought once more in the UFC, losing to Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson before joining Bellator where he defeated Douglas (The Phenom) Lima at Bellator 192 in January 2018 to be crowned the welterweight champion of the world.

Later that year he took on middleweight champion Gegard (The Dreamcatcher) Mousasi to add the 185lb title but was stopped in the second round. Three fights later, he lost the welterweight title in a rematch with Lima in the October 2019 Bellator World Grand Prix welterweight finals.

MacDonald signed with the Professional Fighters League but had to wait until April 2021 to make his debut due to the pandemic. He went 2-4-0 in the PFL, whose schedule consists of a regular season and playoffs, losing in the semifinals in 2021 and 2022.

A born-again Christian, MacDonald has had to grapple with faith and struggle throughout his career. After scoring a majority draw with veteran Jon Fitch in April 2019, he wondered in his post-fight interview if he still had “that same urge to hurt people.”

Later he found his answer

“Instead of leaving a legacy as a fighter, I want to make my mark in sport through the good news of Jesus Christ,” MacDonald said.

Canada’s Rory (Red King) MacDonald absorbs a punch from Sweden’s Sadibou Sy in their Professional Fighters League welterweight bout at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia in a handout photo Friday July 1, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-PFL, Matt Ferris

Born in Quesnel, MacDonald was 14 when he began training with Lea. He had his first professional fight at age 16, which required his parents’ approval. Even then, only a few sporting commissions would approve the youngster.

He won the Canadian lightweight title King of the Cage at 18 – in his sixth fight – and defeated Clay French on his next effort a year later to win the 155-pound world title King of the Cage.

Thanks to a growth spurt, MacDonald rose to welterweight and continued fighting at 170 pounds.

MacDonald was just 20 when he joined the UFC, having won all nine of his pro fights, and handed in veteran Michael (The Joker) Guymon in his UFC debut in January 2010. The next time he suffered the first loss of his career when Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit rallied to stop the young Canadian with seven seconds remaining in their UFC 115 fight in Vancouver in June 2010.

Upset with his performance, MacDonald moved to Montreal where he could train with St-Pierre and other professionals at the Tristar Gym. He won his next five fights, sending out Nate Diaz and BJ Penn in the process while working toward his UFC title shot.

A black belt in jiu-jitsu by the age of 23, MacDonald had many weapons in his arsenal. But in a sport where fights are often built on trash talk and bad blood, he was more robotic than controversial.

MacDonald approached his ship with steely determination, showing little emotion in the cage.

“I’ve learned so much about myself through this career, not all well and I’ve made so many mistakes along the way, but here I am 33 years old, a better man because of those mistakes, which I’m very grateful to.” ” he wrote in his retirement post.

“I want to thank all my fans who have been so supportive,” he added. “I never got into the sport for fame or recognition and it has been difficult to adjust to such attention, but I am truly grateful for the kindness you have shown me.”