Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts fighter and Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight Michael McDonald steps into the octagon for the fourth time in his UFC career on Saturday to face the biggest trial of his career in veteran Miguel Torres.
The fight will air live on pay-per-view on the main card of a UFC 145 docket at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta that includes a title match between light heavyweight legends Jon Jones and Rashad Evans.
Torres sports a 40-4 fight record and is 10 years the elder of McDonald (14-1), a 21-year-old Grace Davis High graduate and Modesto native who moved to Oakdale this year.
McDonald thrilled fight fans with a 56-second knockout of Alex Soto during a live preliminary UFC bout aired on SPIKE in November of 2011. The win landed McDonald his third consecutive UFC victory and set the table for a match-up with one of the elite fighters of his 135-pound division, Torres.
Torres and McDonald are both scattered across the top-10 ranked fighters in the world by mmaweekly.com, bloodyelbow.com and sherdog.com.
Torres dropped from the top five when he lost a decision to rising Demetrious Johnson (14-2-1) on May 28 of last year.
He rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Nick Pace at the same UFC 139 card in San Jose that featured McDonald’s thunderous KO of Soto. And though they fought on the same card, McDonald didn’t need a close encounter to gain exposure to the MMA veteran.
“I’ve been watching Miguel Torres for three years now, picking his fights apart and seeing how I could beat him,” McDonald said. “I have not watched a single bit of tape since I took this fight because I don’t want to play the dangerous game of customizing myself to him. He’s changed his fight style, stance, aggression and even camps, so there is a good chance he will be a lot different now than in his last fight.”
Since McDonald’s training does little to focus on his opponent, he instead utilizes six weeks of an intense fight-keep where he pushes himself to the peak of his physical condition before slowing to make weight and rest before his contest.
He left Tuesday for a flight to Atlanta, and soon begins a whirlwind schedule that includes press conferences, pre-fight video interviews and weigh-ins.
It’s the type of attention that McDonald doesn’t relish, despite his position as a top-10 nationally ranked fighter and winner of both ‘fight of the night’ and ‘knockout of the night’ bonuses in two of his first three UFC fights.
“I don’t really pay attention to the publicity side of this ride,” McDonald said. “I enjoy success and it’s very important to have a good job where you can bring in the money. But as the fights get bigger and bigger with more opportunities I don’t care about the attention too much. I would prefer to be a normal guy where no one knows my name and I just go into Oakdale MMA like every one of those guys, which I am.”