When the Ultimate Fighting Championship picks up World Extreme Cagefighting contracts for a barrage of lower weight bouts in 2011, it will bring along Oakdale-trained Michael McDonald for the biggest fights of his young life.
The 19-year-old Modesto native and Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts Club fighter submitted South Dakota’s Clint Godfrey with a vicious arm-bar two minutes, 42 seconds into the first round on Saturday, to claim a 135-pound WEC victory at the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas.
McDonald, who signed a six-fight deal with the UFC-owned WEC, will now add five UFC fights to an already impressive 11-1 career.
“The thing is I have to keep a cool mind about this whole thing and not start thinking about it being the big show now,” McDonald said. “No matter what, my next fight is just another guy in a cage, and I have to treat it as just another fight.”
McDonald thrilled Vegas MMA fans with a lightning fast two-punch combination to Godfrey’s face just 30 seconds into the fight. Moments later, his straight right floored the 28-year-old wrestler and opened up a quick stanza of ground and pound before McDonald backed away and allowed his opponent to rise.
Godfrey used the cage and a botched submission attempt to slam McDonald to his head a minute and 30 seconds into the fight, but the Oakdale fighter kept things tight until an arm bar could surrender a tap-out with two minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the opening round.
Oakdale MMA instructor Tom Theofanopoulos was on hand to corner his bantamweight prodigy, and couldn’t have been happier with his pupil’s performance.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Theofanopoulos said. “These big shows are where every MMA club tries to go, and to have an Oakdale guy get as far as the UFC is pretty incredible.”
McDonald said he plans to rest for at least six weeks before the start to another round of heavy training for his UFC debut.
According to the UFC website, president Dana White has announced two new championship divisions to feature former WEC fighters in the 135- and 145-pound weight classes in 2011. The extra weights will mean four fight cards for free national viewing in those divisions on the VERSUS Network.