It’s tough being a 20 year old whether you’re going through college or trying to make your way into the world after high school.
So imagine being 20 years old with more than 10 professional fights on your record, and getting ready to make your UFC debut.
Enter Michael McDonald, who just recently turned 20 and makes his first appearance in the Octagon Saturday night against Edwin Figueroa in a bantamweight bout that will be featured on Facebook.
But see, McDonald isn’t like most 20-year-olds out there. He doesn’t regret missing out on the college experience, because he’s learning a lot from life experience. He doesn’t mind that he doesn’t get to party with his friends every weekend.
McDonald believes he’s working towards a much greater goal, and even though his driver’s license says he’s only 20, he’s much more mature than that.
“I never refused a chance to grow up,” McDonald said about his vast maturity despite his age. “We’re all given chances to grow up and a lot of us refuse them, because we’re not done with our fun yet. I can say one thing that I constantly did was I never refused the chance to grow up.
“For whatever reason, I always said I was ready to grow up. There’s times that I might regret it, but any gifts that I have, any blessing that’s come into my life, any great thing, it’s not my doing. I’m a firm believer that I can only do bad, and God can only do good.”
Beyond being a very smart and mature man for his age, McDonald is also a very spiritual person. He describes himself as a devout Christian, and a man of faith.
McDonald doesn’t usually go more than a few sentences without bringing the conversation back to his faith or what he feels faith has done for him throughout his life.
“That’s what drives me,” McDonald said about his faith. “For me it’s not about taking the right supplements and going out and doing all this other kind of stuff, making sure you’re body’s great and all this, that’s a bonus.
“But everything comes from a deeper level from my perspective, then starts the spiritual, then the emotional, and to the physical. You can’t have a good emotional life if you don’t have a good spiritual life. They all stem off of each other.”
The young Californian studies and practices his faith on a daily basis, and that’s the work he puts in. According to McDonald, training hard in the gym and then getting to fight in the UFC, well that’s just a bonus to the life he leads through his faith.
“The daily grind in the gym, that’s happiness, that’s a hobby. I love being in the gym, it’s fun to me. It’s not a burden,” McDonald stated. “The real trials for me are just life trials. With my faith, with my home life, and bettering myself as a person. The trials that life throws at you.”
Even at his young age, McDonald feels that he’s gone through those trials and continues to live them everyday. It’s when he’s able to persevere and feel totally focused as a fighter who is more complete because of his faith, that’s when he’s the most dangerous in the cage.
McDonald flips the switch pretty quickly and turns into a true fighting machine. With a record of 11-1 and every victory coming by way of knockout or submission, McDonald can turn from Dr. Jeckyl to Mr. Hyde in an instant.
“For me, when I’m feeling great and I’m a hard person to deal with is when I’m spiritually good, and when I’m emotionally good,” said McDonald. “When I’m good in my head and my heart, I’m a very hard person to deal with.”
He plans on centering all of that on Saturday night when he faces Edwin Figueora at UFC Fight Night 24 in Seattle.