Bellator 179 "MacDonald vs. Daley" took place Friday (May 19, 2017) at SSE Arena in London, England. The main event saw “The Red King” Rory MacDonald finally make his Bellator debut over half a year after he first signed with the promotion.
MacDonald would not get a free tune-up fight for his debut. The former UFC title contender was immediately thrown into the thick of Bellator’s welterweight division against the dangerous highlight reel striker Paul “Semtex” Daley in the main event.
MacDonald wasted little time after the bell landing an overhand right and shooting the single leg. Daley hopped around for a little bit but couldn’t stop what was coming. Once MacDonald had him down he kept him there and kept passing guard looking for mount or submissions. He never quite got what he wanted but he completely controlled Daley on the ground for most of Round 1.
If the first round was one-sided, then the second was a blowout, as MacDonald caught Daley early with a headkick and easily took him to the ground in side control. He controlled every position he moved to until he caught Daley out of position and took the back for a rear-naked choke at 1:45. It was a truly masterful Bellator debut.
Jimmy Smith spoke to an overjoyed MacDonald after the finish.
“Man, it’s been a long time of layoffs, it’s been a long two years to be honest. It took a lot to stay focused, stay on track, focused in on what I was lacking in every department of my life. And I made sure to check off all those wrongs that I was doing, and it showed in the fight. Paul is one of the best guys that I’ve ever fought, and I had to be on point and at my best and tonight I was at my best. Whatever I see in the moment I just strike, so that’s what it was about tonight, being myself letting it flow and it all came out. You can expect a lot more of that to come.”
MacDonald also vowed to “take your belt and your health” as a warning to both current champion Douglas Lima and his challenger Lorenz Larkin. Daley had some choice words for MVP as well.
Former champion Liam McGeary is trying to work his way back to a rematch with light heavyweight champion Phil Davis, but one time contender Linton “The Swarm” Vassell was just as eager to reach that summit and get a second shot at gold.
For almost all of the three rounds, Linton Vassell used the Phil Davis gameplan to perfection. Dare we call it a “Wonderful” performance? I would. While the first round was arguably close, the takedown in Round 2 came a minute in, and in the third frame it came in under 30 seconds.
Vassell used the top game to control his opponent and inch his way toward a submission, and when he sized up an arm triangle and stepped to the side, McGeary was out of options and forced to tap for the first time in his career at 2:28.
“The Swarm” spoke to Jimmy Smith after his big win about being motivated by a big loss.
“Me losing that world title fight back in the day just made me a better athlete every time I trained every fight. I just beat the former world champion. All I can say is Phil Davis, Ryan Bader, where you at? This is UK wrestling, TRUST. I don’t actually care who wins, best man win out of them two, I’m next.”
Rising welterweight star Alex Lohore (11-1) got a late promotion to the main card taking on journeyman fighter Dan Vinni (14-14) in what many expected to be a one-sided fight.
Vinni was a survivor in the first round, letting Lohore get on top and fishing for leg locks from the bottom. While staying on defense kept Lohore from pounding him out completely, it didn’t stop him from dicing his face up with right hands and left elbows at will. The accretion of damage proved to be too much for Vinni when he got tagged with a pair of hard rights standing, with a couple more undefended ones on the ground ending his night at 0:56.
Lohore spoke to Jimmy Smith after his second Bellator win while his mom was hugging him.
“First of all everyone thank her for me being here. Without her I wouldn’t be here. It’s a pleasure for me you know. The reason why I moved to England is because of her. She changed my life you know? She made the right choice for me. I was too young to understand life, she made the right choice and now look at me I’m here, doing what I love to do. And look she’s here with me as well so I’m blessed. It’s a lot. Hard work, dedication, that’s what I always say.”
Sean Grande quipped “Happy Mother’s Day, five days late” after it was all said and done. To fill time Bellator gifted a bout where Fabian Edwards won via jump knee KO at 3:44 of R1.
Heavyweight veteran Cheick Kongo put his four-fight win streak on the line against the undefeated Augusto Sakai as each looked to stake a claim at the vacant title.
Sakai was game for the first round, keeping a lethargic Kongo at range and punishing the legs with hard kicks. Kongo seemed to wake up with about 80 seconds left but didn’t do enough to turn things around in his favor. In the second Kongo used takedowns to hold Sakai down and pressure against the fence to keep Sakai from landing any damage, eking out the round.
With five minutes left to excite a dissatisfied London crowd, neither man showed any intent to deliver thrills. Instead, slow and sloppy was the order of the day, with a large portion of the frame spent leaning on the cage, and the final minute spent almost entirely on the ground when Sakai slipped. He poked Kongo in the eye getting back up but it hardly mattered as there were only 10 seconds left, so the bell followed the restart, and the split decision (28-29, 29-28 X2) followed that favoring “The Darkness” Kongo in his fifth-straight win.
Rounding out the card was the second professional bout for “Baby Slice” Kevin Ferguson Jr. (0-1) as he took on D.J. Griffin (0-0) at a catchweight of 165 lbs.
In theory Griffin was actually the more experienced fighter, boasting an amateur record of 4-3, but the younger Ferguson showed some of the power in his hands his famous father was known for on and off the streets. As more rights and uppercuts continued to find the target, Griffin wilted to the ground and Ferguson stood over him dropping uncontested strikes. Ferguson finally dropped down to the ground for knees to the body and hammerfists, and referee Dan Miragliotta waved it off at 3:40 of the first round.
A quick fight gave “Baby Slice” a lot of time to speak to Jimmy Smith afterward.
“Man, it feels great, you know? I was just prepared, I worked hard, I trained hard. I want to thank London for having me, all the Bellator staff, Scott thank you, Jimmy thank you for the interview. I knew my cardio was good, and if I connected with him he was gonna try to shoot in. I defended the takedown multiple times, I defended a triangle, an armbar, and I was just ready — I was prepared. I knew if I landed cleanly the fight would be over. I love it man. I love London. Thank you for having me! My dad was going to fight here, so this is much respect to him. This fight was for him. I love you pops, I know you was with me in this cage. Thank you Icey Mike, A.J. Mercenary McKee, my coach Antonio McKee, without those guys I wouldn’t have made it this far, and I wouldn’t have been confident in my stand up and my ground defense. THANK YOU LONDON I LOVE YOU GUYS!”
And thanks to social media you can also see a clip of that interview right here.
For complete Bellator 179 results and coverage click here.