At the same time most teenagers were receiving their drivers’ licenses, Rory MacDonald was making his professional mixed martial arts debut. The Canadian, 16 years of age at the time, submitted fellow Canadian Terry Thiara via rear naked choke at “Extreme Fighting Challenge 4.”
The dominant performance then landed MacDonald in the promotion he would soon call home, debuting against Ken Tran in the King of the Cage promotion. Just as he did in his first fight, MacDonald locked on a rear naked choke to secure his second consecutive submission victory.
It was quickly apparent that dominance would become a trend for MacDonald in the smaller promotions. Following his first two victories, he went on to submit Jordan Mein at “Rumble in the Cage 17”, thus earning another opportunity in the King of the Cage promotion.
Over his next six fights, all with King of the Cage, MacDonald became the most dominant force in the promotion’s 155-pound division. After submitting Quinton Moreno in his fourth professional fight and return to the promotion, MacDonald scored a technical knockout victory over Yoon Heo and was launched into title contention.
In his first professional title fight, MacDonald knocked out Kajan Johnson for the KOTC Canadian Lightweight Title. Just under one year later, he captured the KOTC World Lightweight Title and was officially the best lightweight on the promotion’s roster.
However, MacDonald made the decision shortly after winning the title to make the move up to the 170-pound division in King of the Cage, where he debuted in the welterweight division against Elmer Waterhen, submitting him via armbar. He then went on to knock out Nick Hinchliffe in his second fight at welterweight. The victories at welterweight pushed MacDonald’s record to 9-0 and displayed his ability to take on bigger challenges in MMA.