It’s just a few days away.
On Saturday, Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts Club Fighter and Modesto native Michael McDonald will step into the cage for his debut fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
His bout, one of 12 in the UFC Fight Night 24 card, will be waged inside the Key Arena in Seattle. Three main card fights and a main event fight between heavyweights Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Phil Davis (replacing Tito Ortiz) will be aired on SPIKE on Saturday, though McDonald’s preliminary contest will likely only be viewable online.
McDonald was expected to face Nick Pace on Saturday, but an injury dropped Pace from the card and replaced him with Texas fighter Edwin Figueroa in the UFC’s bantamweight (135 pounds) division.
McDonald said though he was preparing to fight Pace, the late change shouldn’t factor into his performance.
“I’m pretty well rounded and prepared for anything that comes at me,” McDonald said. “I’ve just got to do my game plan and play it by ear.”
McDonald is fresh off a victory in his debut for the UFC’s sister program, World Extreme Cagefighting, which merged its lower weights into title divisions in the UFC.
The 20 year-old striker and jujitsu practitioner has another two guaranteed fights in the UFC, with plenty of room for more contracts, should he continue to see success in the cage.
His first test, in undefeated Figueroa (7-0), should be a good one. The McKinney, Texas native boasts an amateur grappling title, an amateur kickboxing title and is a Dallas Golden Gloves champion, according to UFC.com.
McDonald trained for this fight with a six-week keep inside the Oakdale MMA Club with sparring sessions with Last Stand Fight Team pros, including his brothers Brad McDonald and Justin Smitely along with Oakdale High graduates Martin Sandoval and Bill Theofanopoulos.
The group is trained by instructor Tom Theofanopoulos.
“I have great teammates and I get prepared really well for each fight,” McDonald said. “Tom picked up the intensity of the workouts a bit, but it’s pretty much the same way I’ve trained for my other fights.”
McDonald left for Seattle on Tuesday, and will spend the days before weigh-ins at interviews and promotional events. He said he hasn’t let the magnitude of a UFC fight sink in yet, leaving his emotions to unfold in post-fight moments.
“I just try to keep it on the down low right now,” McDonald said. “It probable won’t hit me until after the fight that I just fought in the UFC.“I am so ready for this fight.”