This weekend, Michael McDonald shone against a game opponent in Brad “One Punch” Picket. He came forward with a well-rounded attack featuring kicks, punches and knees, and ended the fight from his back with a perfectly-timed triangle choke.
With the win where does the bantamweight now stack up in the division?
McDonald came into this fight coming off a loss to interim champion Renan Barao. The fight was competitive going to the fourth, where McDonald was taken down and submitted with an arm triangle.
The fight against Pickett showed an improve fighter in McDonald. The 22-year old utilized a more varied attack than we have seen in the past. He stuck to his boxing-centered stand-up attack and was using more kicks and knees than we are used to. When the fight went to the ground, we saw McDonald use a patient, defensive guard, which is typical of the Canadian fighter.
The real shock, especially for Pickett, was when McDonald swung his leg over Pickett’s shoulder as he stood to lock up a quick triangle choke out of nowhere.
The victory and the marked improvement of McDonald put him right back into the title picture. With bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz currently out with his second ACL injury, the bantamweight division is short on its list of contenders for Barao. McDonald truthfully only needs one or two more solid wins on his resume to gain a title shot.
There was another impressive bantamweight performance on Saturday night. Uriah Faber dominated Iuri Alcantara for the better part of 15 minuets. The California Kid was in a bit of trouble in the early minutes when Alcantara took him down, but after Faber recovered, he was nothing short of brilliant in his ground-and-pound attack.
Faber and McDonald would be an exciting clash between two top-ranked 135ers. McDonald is young and hungry, while Faber is looking to gain back the championship status he had early in his career.
McDonald is showing that he could one day be the bantamweight champion of the world. His skill set is undeniably one of the best in the division. His striking and jiu-jitsu can hang with just about anyone at 135 has to offer.
If there is a weakness to the Canadian’s game, it is his wrestling, which Faber should be able to expose. McDonald would have to stop the takedown. It is hard to get over-hooks on Uriah Faber once he establishes himself in the guard. He keeps his arms on the inside and pummels away with short, accurate elbows.
McDonald’s game off his back centers around gaining the over-hook and controlling his opponents’ posture, which he might not be able to do against Faber should the matchup happen.
The potential matchup with Faber would show how much McDonald has really grown since his meeting with Barao. If he wins, he is ready for another shot. If he loses, he gets bumped on the title ladder, but is given plenty of time to grow into an eventual champion.