Rory MacDonald knows a good deal about the business side of the fight game.
The former Bellator welterweight champion, UFC title challenger, and current PFL fighter has plenty of experience with the outside-the-cage aspect of MMA. MacDonald (21-6-1 MMA) has worked with different major MMA promotions, dealt with many types of contracts, and has tested his value in the free agent market on twice.
MacDonald left the UFC as one of the top fighters in the 170-pound division back in 2016. He signed with Bellator later that year, then went on to fight six times under their banner. Last December, MacDonald left to join the PFL. Both promotional jumps came as surprises to many, but also it shined light on MacDonald’s career management.
Speaking with MMA Junkie, “The Red King” discussed some of the things he’s learned through out his career in response to the recent fighter criticism on UFC’s revenue share with its athletes.
“It’s a tough spot,” MacDonald told MMA Junkie. “You’re in a tough business of being a professional mixed martial artist. Most of the money is going to the promotion. We don’t have anything like the Ali Act that’s protecting us in getting, you know, fair distribution of the money that’s coming from these events. So in the current situation, the current marker, you pretty much have to fend for yourself is what I see.”
MacDonald believes the best course of action is look out for your own interesst when it comes to making money in MMA. This could mean many things, but for him, it has meant going elsewhere at contract time.
“I felt like when I was in the UFC, I was focused on just being a champion, and when I get to that top spot I want to be a top competitor and the money is going to come,” Macdonald said. “But it just seemed the increments of when I got to the next contract it wasn’t going anywhere substantial for me. So I had to make a tough decision, but I believe in myself that I would be successful out of the UFC and I’m not saying ill will towards the UFC. That’s just the way they conduct business and that’s fine.
“That’s the current market and we as fighters we have to deal with that. The way I dealt with it, is to do what was best for me. I had to move on elsewhere and look at the entire market to look at other promotions and see what was the best situation for me.”
One thing you haven’t heard from MacDonald? He’s never badmouthed his previous promoters, and that’s not going to change.
“Every time there’s a contract negotiation it’s best not to burn bridges with different promotors. You want to keep a good relationship with everybody. Talking bad about a promotor is not going to do you any favors seven years down the road talking to different promotions and see who wants to bring you in again. So I always try to be respectful to the promotors and work together and make a deal that works for everyone.”