Oakdale MMA fighter Michael McDonald waited nearly six months for his third Ultimate Fighting Championship bout, but took only 56 seconds to finish it in front of a live national television audience on Saturday.
McDonald (14-1) battered previously unbeaten Alex Soto (6-1) against the cage until he was unconscious during ‘UFC Prelims Live’ on SPIKE during the UFC 139 card at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The finish drew a huge ovation from a crowd of over 13,000 and impressed UFC president Dana White enough to garner McDonald a $70,000 ‘Knockout of the Night” bonus for his effort.
Coupled with a $50,000 “Fight of the Night” in March, McDonald now has two fight bonuses in only three UFC fights.
“That is exactly how I like my fights to go,” McDonald said on Monday. “I don’t want to be in there for long, because the longer you are in the cage the better chance you have get to get punched in the face.
“I was watching all the other fights praying that these guys would not get a big knock out and steal my bonus.”
The other fights didn’t end as quickly as McDonald’s but combined for one of the most exciting and crowd-rousing events in the history of mixed martial arts.
The final three fights were the last of a five-card pay per view, and culminated the thrills with perfection. The California Kid, Urijah Faber, sent the crowd roaring to their feet with big punches and a guillotine choke over Brian Bowles in McDonald’s 135-pound bantamweight division. Brazil native Wanderlei Silva followed that fight with an electrifying comeback and second-round knockout of San Jose fighter Cung Le.
The main event seemed to lead towards a one-sided stoppage for Temecula’s Dan Henderson, but Brazil’s Shogun Rua dominated the fourth and fifth round for a back-and-forth finale that is already considered a frontrunner for “Fight of the Year”.
“I can’t even believe that in one of the best cards in MMA history that I got ‘Knockout of the Night’,” McDonald said. “I was just in awe the entire time and I was thinking ‘I am witnessing history right now’.”
The 20-year-old Modesto resident is the youngest fighter in the UFC and is currently ranked No. 10 among all bantamweight fighters in the world according to mmaweekly.com. Bowles was No. 2 and Faber No. 5 as of Nov. 15, but those positions will adjust as Faber prepares for a title shot at No. 1 Dominick Cruz.
McDonald made a case for a climb up that ladder with his quick dismantling of Soto. The fight started with a series of quick rushes from Soto, but a charge left Soto’s chin exposed for a big right from McDonald as he attempted a kick. The punch landed flush and dropped the San Diego fighter to the canvas, where McDonald moved in to end the fight. The finish was delayed when Soto quickly rolled to his feet, but McDonald kept the pressure up with a barrage of punches. A big uppercut knocked Soto to his haunches at the cage, and a second uppercut knocked Soto unconscious for a referee stoppage.
“Watching him fight, I knew he was an incredibly aggressive fighter, but I could see in his tapes that he was making mistakes that I knew I could capitalize on,” McDonald said. “When he came back up after the first knock down I about cried out in fear that he had recovered. But I knew he was still rocked and I had a short window of time to jump on it and capitalize.”