Rory MacDonald shut down Neiman Gracie, and is now moving onto the finals of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix.
Rory MacDonald going into his Bellator 222 main-event was coming off a rough controversial draw to Jon Fitch at Bellator 220. The draw resulted in him retaining the title, but after the fight he made some comments that may have led some to think he may retire. However, MacDonald didn’t and was back less than two months later. MacDonald has had a back and forth stint in Bellator so far, defeating Paul Daley and Douglas Lima prior to losing Gegard Mousasi.
Neiman Gracie went into the Bellator welterweight tournament as a bit of a dark horse. The young fighter hadn’t really faced anyone of note until Ed Ruth in the opening match of the tournament. Gracie defeated Ruth via fourth round submission in a competitive fight, and going into the MacDonald fight, many thought Gracie could present challenges with his grappling skill.
Round one was a feeling out process on the feet for both guys, Gracie only shot for one takedown in the first. MacDonald kept him on the outside with his jab and left hook. Gracie landed some really nice leg kicks on the Canadian. The kicks apparently did some damage, as MacDonald mentioned that his leg was hurting going into round two.
Round two featured a very aggressive approach by Gracie, shooting for a takedown and getting it early, Gracie would start to look for a leglock. However, MacDonald would survive, and after some clinch work by both guys, MacDonald got the fight to the ground on his own terms. Landing in the guard of Neiman Gracie, and landing elbows and strikes from the top for the rest of the second round.
Rory MacDonald would continue his risky ground approach in the third round, starting off the round by slamming Gracie down into a takedown. Staying busy on top, we saw offense that looked a lot like the second round, elbows and strikes from the top. At one point Gracie rolled for an armbar, but Rory swung his leg over, and got out of it, and went back to work from top. MacDonald would end the round on top, as he had the second.
The fourth round is where Gracie went for broke, shooting ruthlessly for takedowns and trying whatever he could to get the fight to the mat. Gracie got MacDonald down and looked for a choke, but he couldn’t keep him there. After finding his way out of the choke, Rory would get on top in the closed guard of Gracie, and go to work. He would stay on top in guard for the rest of the round, peppering Gracie with little shots until the round came to a close.
Rory MacDonald was clearly up on the scorecards going into round five, so Neiman Gracie had to go for it. Gracie secured the takedown early, and got straight to full mount. However, he struggled to do much with it, as Rory shut down the majority of his offense on top. With seconds left he went for the heelhook but Rory once again shut it down.
For all Gracie tried, Rory always had an answer. Impressive performance from MacDonald, especially given the short turnaround and last fight. Rory MacDonald will now face Douglas Lima in a rematch in the finals of the Bellator Welterweight Tournament.
Rory MacDonald def. Neiman Gracie by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47 x2)