Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts Club fighter and Ultimate Fighting Championship sensation Michael McDonald has a chance to make history early next year.
The former Oakdale resident, who currently lives in Modesto, has been given a bantamweight title shot at UFC interim champion Renan Barão of Brazil when the UFC heads to London and the Wembley Arena for UFC on Fuel TV 7.
If McDonald defeats Barão, he will become the youngest fighter to ever claim a UFC belt at 21 years of age.
“In reality, it’s just a fight and that record doesn’t matter,” McDonald said on Monday. “I do know about it and it’s in the back of my mind, but it’s just not something to dwell on.”
The title fight is another big leap in a dazzling career that began when McDonald turned pro at age 16. He joined Tachi Palace Fights at 18, knocked out MMA veteran Manny Tapia at 19, joined World Extreme Cagefighting and the UFC at 20 and knocked out longtime legend Miguel Torres at 21 in his last pro fight.
McDonald is 15-1 as a professional, 4-0 in the UFC, in the midst of an eight-fight win streak and avenged his only loss with a devastating knockout.
His opponent has an even better résumé.
Barão has won 29 consecutive fights since a loss in his first pro fight in 2005, is also 4-0 in the UFC and peppered UFC star Urijah Faber with lighting quick strikes to claim the interim title in July of this year. Barão also sports wins over the likes of bantamweight contenders Scott Jorgensen (14-6) and Brad Pickett (22-6).
He owns rights to the interim title because UFC champion Dominick Cruz was forced to undergo another procedure on his surgically-repaired knee. Cruz is expected to miss all of 2013 with the injury.
With Cruz temporarily out of the picture, McDonald gets the biggest fight of his career and a chance to become one of the most prolific athletes in Oakdale history.
McDonald trains every day at Oakdale MMA but has yet to begin his pre-fight regime that begins six weeks before a scheduled fight.
He mentioned thanks to his family, his training partners, the family of Oakdale MMA instructor Tom Theofanopoulos and the family of his girlfriend, highlighting their continued support as key to his success.