LONDON – In June, UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald will fight the final bout on his current contract with the industry-leader, starting a countdown to free agency that’s by now become a familiar story to MMA observers.

MacDonald (18-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who at UFC Fight Night 89 faces Stephen Thompson (12-1MMA, 7-1 UFC), is the latest UFC fighter to forgo the certainty of a new contract for the potential bigger payouts on the open market, joining a small group that’s made a big noise in the industry. Benson Henderson, Aljamain Sterling and Matt Mitrione all completed their contracts, with Henderson and Mitrione eventually signing with Bellator.

So far, only Henderson has fought for the Viacom-owned promotion. This past Friday, the ex-UFC lightweight champ was thoroughly outclassed in a welterweight bout against champ Andrey Koreshkov, lending a sour note to the optimistic tenor brought by his defection.

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