Neiman Gracie went into his fight at Bellator 222 believing that this was his chance to become a champion. Unfortunately for him, Rory MacDonald also had something to prove.
The Red King silenced doubters when he retained his title with a strong five round performance. In the end, MacDonald handed Gracie his first MMA loss.
MacDonald impressed with slick striking and a surprisingly dominant ground game. He avoided every submission Neiman threw at him, including both kneebar and armbar attempts.
“I feel pretty good,” Rory said after the fight. Always humble, he continued, “It’s such an honor to be able to compete in an arena like this in New York City. I truly feel blessed to come so far in my career to be fighting for a world championship here in Madison Square Garden.”
Gracie’s striking, while not dominant, was solid for a ground specialist. He landed several kicks that forced MacDonald to favor his lead leg.
Though he scored a few takedowns, MacDonald managed to keep top position and force Gracie to work hard and defend MacDonald’s strikes while MacDonald kept out of submissions.
MacDonald advances to the finals of the Welterweight Grand Prix to face Douglas Lima, while Gracie proved he can hang with the big boys in MMA.