Welterweight great MacDonald retiring from MMA

3:01 PM ET

  • Brett OkamotoESPN Staff Writer


    • MMA columnist for ESPN.com
    • Analyst for “MMA Live”
    • Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun

Rory MacDonald, one of the top welterweight mixed martial artists of the past decade, has announced his retirement at age 33.

MacDonald, of British Columbia, made the announcement less than 24 hours after suffering a TKO loss to Dilano Taylor in a 2022 PFL semifinals matchup. After the loss, MacDonald removed his gloves — a symbolic gesture that generally hints at retirement — but did not make an announcement until Sunday morning.

“My time has come to put the gloves down for good,” MacDonald wrote on Instagram. “I’m so thankful for this sport and every person I’ve been able to meet along the way.”

MacDonald (23-10-1) made his professional MMA debut in 2005 and signed with UFC in 2010 at age 20. At the time, he was considered a new breed of mixed martial artist, as he did not come from any one traditional background. Rather than starting his career as a wrestler, boxer or jiu-jitsu practitioner, MacDonald trained full MMA from his first day in combat sports.

Training alongside Georges St-Pierre at Tristar MMA in Montreal, MacDonald went 9-2 in his first 11 UFC appearances. During that time, he defeated some of the best of his era, including Nate Diaz, BJ Penn, Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. He unsuccessfully challenged Robbie Lawler for the UFC title in July 2015 in what is considered one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

MacDonald left UFC in 2017 in favor of a lucrative contract with Bellator MMA. He won the Bellator welterweight title in 2018. MacDonald tried to become a two-weight champion in Bellator the following year in a middleweight title fight against Gegard Mousasi but lost via second-round TKO.

In 2021, MacDonald joined the PFL. He was bounced from the 2021 tournament in the semifinals by Ray Cooper III and suffered the same fate in 2022.

“I’ve learned so much about myself through this career, not all of it good,” MacDonald wrote. “I’ve made so many mistakes along the way, but here I am 33 years old, a better man because of those mistakes, to which I’m very grateful I’ve grown up.”