PFL welterweight and former Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald has had a long road to success in his illustrious MMA career, beginning with his title contention in the UFC and his infamous battles with former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

But after earning the championship belt in Bellator, he didn’t feel like the same fighter he was during the early stages of his career and didn’t feel passionate about the fight game anymore.

2020 was a year of challenges, triumph, and self-reflection for many around the world including MacDonald in his native Canada. He used the downtime during the pandemic to work on his mental health and more specifically, balancing his work life with his home life.

“I won the Bellator title against Douglas Lima, just gotten married and I started to enjoy the spoils of success and take my focus off of fighting,” MacDonald said during a PFL fight week press conference. “I felt like my performances dipped and I was able to take a break during the pandemic and look internally and learn about myself. It gave me time to address these things, re-motivate, and set goals.”

Following his majority draw against Jon Fitch at Bellator 220, MacDonald raised eyebrows around the MMA community with his comments regarding his deteriorating passion for fighting. Despite being regarded as one of the best fighters in the world, he sounded like someone on the way out of the sport.

After taking some much-needed time off, MacDonald feels like a completely different fighter for all the right reasons. He’s widely regarded to be the favorite to earn the PFL welterweight championship this season and is coming off an impressive league debut against Curtis Millender, getting the submission win in the first round.

MacDonald faces former UFC standout Gleison Tibau at PFL 5 on Thursday night and is looking forward to putting on another performance for his fans to be proud of.

“I want to be the number-one welterweight in the world and put on impressive, dominant performances,” MacDonald said. “Gleison Tibau is a tough guy and I’m expecting the best from him.”

Do you think Rory MacDonald is still a world-class MMA fighter regardless of promotion?