Rory MacDonald was worth the wait for Bellator MMA.
In his first appearance since leaving the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the Scott Coker-led organization, MacDonald submitted Paul Daley with a second-round rear-naked choke atop Bellator 179 on Friday at the SSE Arena in London. Daley (39-15-2) conceded defeat 1:45 into Round 2, as he was submitted for the first time in nearly nine years.
MacDonald (19-4) snapped a two-fight losing streak and put himself in prime position to challenge the winner of the forthcoming Douglas Lima-Lorenz Larkin showdown for the Bellator welterweight championship.
Related » Matches to Make After Bellator 179
In the light heavyweight co-main event, Linton Vassell made his pitch for a title shot by submitting former champion Liam McGeary with a third-round arm-triangle choke. McGeary (12-2) bowed out 2:28 into Round 3, losing for the second time in three outings.
Vassell (18-5) has rattled off three straight wins since his decision defeat to Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 142 in September 2015.
Meanwhile, Cheick Kongo improved to 9-2 under the Bellator banner but did so in underwhelming fashion, as he eked out a split decision over Augusto Sakai in a plodding and uneventful heavyweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Kongo (27-10-2).
The loss was the first for Sakai (9-1-1) and came on the heels of his majority draw with Dan Charles at Bellator 155 a year ago. The Brazilian prospect has not won a fight since November 2015.
Elsewhere, former Ultimate Challenge MMA champion Alex Lohore wiped out journeyman Dan Edwards with punches in the second round of their welterweight feature. Lohore (12-1) drew it to a close 56 seconds into Round 2, as he recorded his eighth consecutive victory and continued to surge at 170 pounds.
The 29-year-old Edwards (14-15) has lost nine of his past 12 bouts.
In other action, Kevin Ferguson Jr., son of the late “Kimbo Slice,” cut down D.J. Griffin with punches 3:40 into the first round of their catchweight encounter at 165 pounds; Stav Economou submitted Dan Konecke with a guillotine choke 65 seconds into the first round of their heavyweight pairing; Amir Albazi took a lopsided unanimous decision from Jamie Powell in a three-round flyweight affair, sweeping the scorecards with 30-25, 30-26 and 30-26 marks; Nathan Jones submitted Umer Kayani with a rear-naked choke 4:35 into the first round of their welterweight confrontation; Fabian Edwards knocked out Rafal Cejrowski with a flying knee 3:44 into the first round of their middleweight tilt; Jeremy Petley captured a unanimous verdict over Chase Morton in their three-round catchweight clash at 150 pounds, prompting 29-28, 30-27 and 30-26 nods from the judges; Mike Shipman dispatched Marcin Prostko with a knees 2:39 into the first round of their middleweight matchup; and Salih Kulucan submitted Diego Barbosa with a heel hook 2:18 into the first round of their bantamweight contest.