The next bout in Bellator MMA’s Welterweight Title Grand Prix has been set and this time Bellator Welterweight Champion Rory McDonald will defend his title for the first time in the Grand Prix facing long time UFC veteran and former World Series of Fighting Champion Jon Fitch. The bout will main event a card set for April 27 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, which serves as the promotion’s unofficial home arena.
The co-main event for the card will see Bellator Flyweight Champion Ilima Lei-Macfarlane defend her title for the third time against Idaho’s Veta Arteaga, a relatively quick turn around after defending her title just one month ago.
McDonald (20-5, 2-1 Bellator) will be defending his title for the first time since winning the belt a close battle with Douglas Lima last January, in just his second fight in the promotion. Canada’s “Red King” moved up last September to challenge Bellator Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi but was had no answers for the much bigger man and was stopped by strikes in the second round.
“The Canadian Psycho” will need to be much better against Fitch (31-7, 1-0 Bellator), a decorated wrestler out of the University of Purdue who went 14-3-1 in the UFC but was exiled from the promotion for having a fighting style that is very untelegenic. Fitch then went to the World Series of Fighting, where defeated Joao Zeferino to win the WSOF welterweight title, which he defended two times. He made his debut in Bellator last May, dominating striker Paul Daley over three rounds.
McDonald will need to work very hard to stop takedowns this fight, and he will have a huge advantage on his feet. Yet if Fitch can get the fight to the ground, even with McDonald’s extensive background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he should be a distinct advantage, and this is his best shot to win the title. The winner of the match will move on to face Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ace Neiman Gracie, who is coming off a big submission victory in his first round match against wrestler Ed Ruth.
Macfarlane (9-0, 8-0 Bellator) became the first champion in Bellator’s 125 pound division with a dominant performance in submitting rival Emily Ducote in the fifth round in November 2017. She followed that up by submitting Alejandra Lara with an armbar last May and UFC veteran Valerie Letourneau by a triangle choke and strikes last month, in what was a tremendous hometown performance in Hawaii.
Vertaga (5-2, 4-2 Bellator) is coming off two straight wins, including a three round decision over Ducote and submission win over Denise Kieholtz in her hometown of Boise, Idaho. She is taking a big step up in class but has improved plenty in the last two years. She represents maybe one of the last real challenges for Macfarlane in the division, unless it gets some new blood very soon.
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