Michael McDonald has achieved a tremendous amount of success in his mixed martial arts career, especially considering he’s only 19 years old. In three years of professional competition, he’s amassed an 11-1 record, and is already fighting for the most prominent fight promotion on the planet.
The only thing more impressive than mounting such a successful salvo so early in his career is his demeanor. Talking to McDonald, he presents a maturity beyond his years.
“I chose a hard life,” said McDonald on MMAWeekly Radio recently. “When you’re well known, when you’re famous, when you got things that other people want, people listen to you a lot more.”
That observation isn’t without purpose, something that McDonald feels he has by choosing fighting as his profession.
“It makes me more able to help people, to plant seeds, and bring more people to God and let them hear my words more clearly. I think that’s why He put me in this position,” McDonald explained.
“I do want a hard life, I do, because people with hard lives, those are people that other people look up to because they take a load that’s too hard for them.”
Not exactly what you’d expect from a typical 19-year-old American, especially one that has chosen beating people up as an integral part of his job description.
It is just part of McDonald’s mental make-up that started long ago.
“I wasn’t always that kid that wanted to grow up and be a fighter. I was never roughhousing. I was never fighting in school,” he recalled. “I liked to be alone, play video games. I’ve always been an athletic nerd. It was never something where I just woke up and ‘I’m gonna be a fighter today.’ It just kind of gradually happened.
“I’ve always been the kind of guy that I could completely excel at school and make it real easy, but I always wanted to go do the athletic thing.”
“Doing the athletic thing” is something that he has excelled at. He has never gone to a decision in any of his 12 professional bouts, and he has lost only once, to former Palace Fighting Championships bantamweight champion Cole Escovedo. He later avenged that loss, taking the title, and moving on to World Extreme Cagefighting.
He made an immediate splash, submitting Clint Godfrey in the first round at WEC 52. Now, with the merger of the WEC into the UFC, McDonald will next show his wares on the biggest stage in the world.
He suffered a hand injury in the Godfrey fight in November, but feels he’s ready for the jump to the UFC and will be well prepared once he’s healed up.
“I’m a realist… I honestly believe I’m thee best striker in my weight class in the world,” McDonald assessed. “Me going into the UFC, I need to work a lot more on my wrestling, a lot more on my jiu-jitsu (though he holds a brown belt in the art), because anyone with a brain isn’t going to want to stand in front of me and throw punches for any more than one round.”
He’s not quite sure when he’ll be back in action, but he’s hoping for something around March of next year. McDonald does have someone in mind, however, if UFC matchmaker Joe Silva would care for any ideas.
“I think it would be extremely fun to fight Eddie Wineland,” he said.
Wineland is a former WEC bantamweight champion, currently riding a three-fight winning streak. He’s known for an aggressive style, both on the feet and on the mat.
Whether that bout comes to fruition or not remains to be seen, but if McDonald continues the explosive growth of his first three years as a professional, UFC fans should be prepared to see him in the Octagon for a long time to come.