Preview and prediction for Rory MacDonald vs. Curtis Millender at PFL 2.
It may feel like forever since the Professional Fighters League (PFL) rocked the MMA world by signing former Bellator welterweight champion and UFC welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald. But MacDonald will finally make his PFL debut this weekend at PFL 2, taking on Curtis Millender.
MacDonald was scheduled to face David Michaud originally, but a heart condition forced Michaud to pull out of the fight and likely end his MMA career.
MacDonald spent his last six bouts in Bellator after a run in the UFC. He submitted Paul Daley in his Bellator debut before defeating Douglas Lima to capture the Bellator welterweight championship. MacDonald attempted to gain middleweight gold there as well but was finished by Gegard Mousasi.
MacDonald defended his title twice in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, battling Jon Fitch to a draw and getting a decision over Neiman Gracie, but he dropped the belt back to Lima in the finals.
MacDonald signed with the PFL in December 2019 but his debut was delayed due to the PFL not having a 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Millender also had a stint in the UFC, beginning with a knockout of Thiago Alves and decision wins over Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada. He was cut from the promotion after losses to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Belal Muhammad. He then returned to Bellator for a pair of fights, defeating Moses Murrietta and losing to Sabah Homasi.
Who will win at PFL 2: Rory MacDonald or Curtis Millender?
Millender will come into this fight with two-inch edges in height and reach, though MacDonald has the championship and main event-level experience, as well as coming out of the well-established TriStar Gym.
It’s been said for his last couple of fights, but it’s worth repeating: MacDonald, to his own admission, has struggled to pull the trigger and fire as best as he could. Without that “killer instinct,” he hasn’t looked as impressive as he did back when he challenged Robbie Lawler at UFC 189.
McDonald still has a great skillset with some high-class striking and decent grappling to go along with it. But it seems a little off without the fighting instincts he used to have, and that’s a little troubling, especially when he didn’t fight in 2020. He’s also shown some struggles when facing grappling-heavy guys like Lima and Fitch as of late – even Gracie got his fair share in.
Millender, who has fought twice in the “pandemic era” of MMA thus far, has some great grappling ability and speedy striking, in addition to his slight physical edge.
PFL is on high upset alert after the number of upsets at the 2021 premiere, including Clay Collard’s win over Anthony Pettis. Don’t be surprised if that trend continues here.
Prediction: Millender via unanimous decision