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Mayday McDonald Returns To UFC Octagon
With just a few days remaining until his big fight at UFC 95, Michael Mayday McDonald trains hard at Oakdale MMA. Here he is shown sparring with Salvador Becerra. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER


After a two year absence from the world of Mixed Martial Arts, Modesto native Michael “Mayday” McDonald returns to combat in the octagon. The 24-year-old, who trains out of Oakdale, last fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on Dec. 14, 2013 against “The California Kid” Urijah Faber. McDonald lost in the second round, and the former champion stepped away from the sport until now.

“I believe this is God’s plan for me. I don’t feel complete doing anything else right now, not saying that I won’t be able to hang it up when it’s time, because absolutely I will, I honestly believe in my heart that once my work is done, and I do what I need to do, I will have no problem stopping fighting,” McDonald said prior to a recent training session. “Right now, I feel this is God’s plan for me and there is nothing else I can do, and feel complete.”

McDonald (16-3-0) began fighting at the age of 16 and is a former champion. He is currently ranked eighth amongst Bantamweights and will be fighting Masanori Kanehara (25-12-5) at UFC 95 on Saturday, Jan. 2 in the prelims that will air on FS1 beginning at 5 p.m.

“Training for this fight has been extensive. I originally was scheduled to fight in October, but it got pushed out to January. I have been actively training for about six months and it’s been a long, long process for this fight,” said McDonald. “Even before that, I was training intensely for my hand to recover and making sure I could take on a fight. So it has been a lot of training.”

McDonald went on to add, “Strategy is the same as it’s always been. I’m not too worried about different strategies for different opponents. Everybody knows what I am going to do, and what I am good at. I have a lot of power; I have good Jiu Jitsu, good accuracy and good wrestling, so everybody knows what I am good at.”

As far as matching up against Kanehara, McDonald said he has prepared the best way he knows how.

“A right hand is a right hand no matter if it is coming from this guy that I am fighting or one of my teammates. I don’t train for the opponent, I train for the technique,” he explained. “I have not watched any film on him; I don’t really know what he likes to do. My brother and manager have watched film on him, but I haven’t. My job is train to be me.”

During his time away from the sport, McDonald worked with his hands in a different way. He perfected his craft as a woodworker. Making centerpieces and other wooden projects, he felt a different sense of accomplishment.

“Woodworking is a dream job, making giant centerpieces, it was really awesome.”

McDonald is also an active member of his church, where he attends Big Valley Grace and attends as many church meetings as his busy schedule will allow.