Rory MacDonald wants to get back in the Bellator cage to defend his welterweight title sooner rather than later, but first he must get past the damage sustained in his previous bout.
MacDonald (20-4 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) had a large hematoma form on his right shin when he won the 170-pound belt against Douglas Lima (29-7 MMA, 11-3 BMMA) with a unanimous-decision victory at Bellator 192 in January. He described the pain as worse than any other injury in his fighting career, and nearly two months later, he’s still feeling the ill effects.
“I’m still in the recovery process, actually,” MacDonald told MMAjunkie. “I do everyday life pretty normally, but there’s still an injury deep inside my leg. It’s a bit soft on where the hematoma was. It’s not like my other leg. There’s still some time needed for recovery.”
Although MacDonald, 28, is still wearing the punishment he sustained from Lima, he said he’s grateful for the experience. He went five hard-fought rounds and came out on the winning end. The Canadian said he took some gratification from that effort, especially because his UFC title fight against Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 in July 2015 ended with him succumbing to a TKO in Round 5.
“It sucks during the fights going through those hard ones, to battle through it,” MacDonald said. “But it always feels good when you can break down barriers in a fight and push through it and push yourself and see how far you can go as a person. I was pretty grateful for that experience to take one more step past a barrier and show myself I can do more and more and handle more and more as fighter. It builds confidence. I grew a lot through that fight.”
MacDonald said he expects the tenderness in his leg to fade away completely before the end of the month. He will then return to full-contact training and start to gather a better idea of when he will be ready to return to the cage.
Despite the injury, MacDonald said he’s not expecting a long layoff. He wants to get his first title defense done without much delay, and said he’s “not looking at being out much longer.” The seemingly imminent return draws speculation of who MacDonald could fight next, and it appears a fresh challenger is on the horizon.
After dropping the title at Bellator 192, Lima has pushed for an immediate rematch for the belt he lost. MacDonald said he would be open to a second clash at some point in the future, but as of now, he indicated that’s not in Bellator’s plans.
“I don’t think it is (the Lima rematch),” MacDonald said. “I’ve heard no interest in that from them. They’re looking at trying to get a new contender in there for me. That’s about as far as I know. But from what I’ve heard, and the feeling I’ve got, they’re not interested in a Lima rematch right now. But they know me: I’m willing to take on whoever is the No. 1 guy in their view.
“The top contenders in Bellator – there’s not so many contenders. He’s one win away from being the next guy, if he’s not ready. Absolutely I see myself fighting Lima again within the next year or two.”
Outside of Lima, the most notable contenders in the Bellator welterweight division who are coming off wins are ex-champ Andrey Koreshkov (20-2 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) and Lorenz Larkin (19-7 MMA, 1-2 BMMA). MacDonald hinted that the former is definitely in the conversation, but said nothing is set with regard to his first title defense.
“I know Koreshkov is up there; I haven’t heard anything about Lorenz,” MacDonald said. “I know he’s like 1-2 (in Bellator) or something like that right now. So I don’t think he’s on the radar. So who knows.”
For more on the Bellator schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Rory MacDonald still recovering from leg injury, says Bellator has no interest in immediate Lima rematch