By Daniel Holzhauer
With injuries continuing to play havoc on the UFC’s schedule, UFC President Dana White announced on Tuesday’s MMA Tonight program that interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao will be given an opportunity to defend his belt against Michael ‘Mayday’ McDonald.
Barao, a Brazilian product of Nova Uniao, defeated Urijah Faber to win the interim title and extend his amazing unbeaten streak to 30 fights. He burst onto the bantamweight scene by showcasing his submission skills in the WEC, but it was the striking in his fight-of-the-night performance over Brad Pickett that propelled Barao to the top of the marquee.
Barao stood in the pocket and exchanged with ‘One-Punch’ Pickett. The two men ate multiple clean shots each until Barao landed a knee that sent Pickett to the mat and led to a first-round submission. Barao’s skills are not surprising when you consider his training partners, champions Jose Aldo and Eduardo Dantas.
The experience difference will be large when the twenty-one year old McDonald steps into the cage, but it is unlikely to deter the young Californian. McDonald was just 16 when he made his professional MMA debut and has just as many fights in the UFC as Barao.
“I have my whole life been addicted to competition and performance. But I would find MMA, the combination of my first 2 loves kickboxing and jiu-jitsu, to be the most pure form of competition in existence,” McDonald says on his website maydaymcdonald.com, “A speed chess match with your body with an unlimited amount of pieces.”
McDonald has lived the life of a marital artist since a young age and has been supported by his brothers, and professional fighters, Justin Smitley and Brad McDonald. Now McDonald stands at the top of his game after consecutive first-round knockouts of Alex Soto and former WEC champion Miguel Torres.
With defending champion Dominick Cruz sidelined by a second consecutive ACL injury, Barao and McDonald will likely find themselves as the co-main event on a UFC PPV or as the main-event on a non-PPV card in early 2013. And with a bit of good fortune, the winner will face Cruz in a title unification fight near the beginning of 2014.
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