“The California Kid” finally gets to fight inside the UFC Octagon in front of his hometown crowd as former WEC Featherweight Champion and UFC title challenger Urijah Faber takes on another former UFC title challenger, Michael McDonald, in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC On FOX fight card. Faber will be putting a three-fight win streak on the line as he comes in off of a decision win over Iuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 26 in August. Faber is 4-1 over his last five fights. McDonald is also coming in off a win on that same fight card as he scored a submission win over Brad Pickett. McDonald is 9-1 over his last ten fights.
Fight Breakdown- Faber heads into fighting in his current hometown of Sacramento with yet another title opportunity hanging in the balance. Faber has won his last three fights, and it has come over top competition as he has scored wins over Iuri Alcantara, Scott Jorgensen and Ivan Menjivar since being defeated by Renan Barao in an Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship bout at UFC 149 in July 2012. For all of the flack that Faber gets for his numerous title chances, all six of his losses in his career have come in title fights, and he has never lost a non-title fight. He remains ranked second in the UFC’s bantamweight rankings, right below the two champions- Barao and Dominick Cruz, who will meet in February to unify the champions and declare an undisputed champion at 135 pounds. The winner of this fight will likely face the winner, and Faber would love to get another crack at the title, especially if it were against Cruz, who he is 1-1 against. Faber is part of a resurgent Team Alpha Male camp under Duane Ludwig, and Saturday night will be a landmark event for the team.
McDonald is looking to gain another title opportunity after coming up short against Barao when they fought for the interim championship at UFC On FUEL TV 7 in February. McDonald held his own for the first ten minutes with Barao, but Barao took over during rounds three and four en route to a submission win in the fourth round. It was just the second loss of McDonald’s career, and the first time he was submitted. At the same time, it ended McDonald’s nine-fight win streak, and he has won his first four fights in the UFC. McDonald bounced back in a big way in his submission win over Brad Pickett at UFC Fight Night 26 in August as he dominated Pickett in the first round, and came very close to finishing him with punches, which is very tough to do to Pickett. He ended up with the submission win in the second round, and he won “Submission Of The Night” honors to go along with “Fight Of The Night” honors as well. McDonald is one of the youngest fighters on the UFC roster as he is just 22-years-old, but he has already fought 18 times in his career. Of his 16 wins, 14 have come by finish, but he does have a history of breaking his hands during fights due to his vicious knockout power.
This has the makings of being a fun fight and it is almost a real shame these guys aren’t going to be going five rounds. Faber is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport as he has excellent wrestling, excellent submissions and his striking game is only getting better working with Duane Ludwig. McDonald hits very hard and has the ability to finish anyone, and he has an excellent submission game as well. Faber is a true veteran of the sport while McDonald is at an age where we wonder how great he can become as he has yet to even sniff his prime at 22. When it comes to fighting on their feet, neither is a high-volume puncher, and McDonald likes to rely on counterpunches. Faber shifts well from striking to his takedown game, and McDonald does have trouble defending the takedown, especially as the fight goes towards the later stages. Faber has said he believes that McDonald is a one-dimensional fighter, but at the same time Faber has fears of McDonald’s power, and it will be up to McDonald to answer those questions Faber has about him.
Faber will be working to take the fight to the ground and use his ground-and-pound, and he is flawless at landing elbows from inside the guard. McDonald showed he can work well off of his back against Brad Pickett, and he should expect to end up on his back in this fight. Faber is strong on the ground and has an excellent submission game and good submission defense. He is a strong fighter as well, and he scrambles real well and can land punches off of those scrambles. This fight will come down to whether McDonald can land that power punch on the feet. He has quick hands and dangerous power, and we know that Faber tends to rely on his right hand, almost a little too much, so McDonald should know that is coming and be prepared to counter. Faber needs his wrestling to win this fight as if he is able to score those takedowns, he will likely take a decision. This one is a very interesting fight for both men, and while Faber has the huge experience edge and likes to push the pace of the fight. He will have to do that in this one, and this fight has the makings of being bananas and could easily be the best fight on the card. In a close bout like this one, experience plays a big key, and Faber will utilize his right hand and takedowns and squeak away with a close decision win.
Why It Matters- You can’t deny Faber another title shot if he were to defeat McDonald. It would be four straight wins over top competition, and a win over McDonald would be over the best 135-pound fighter that doesn’t boast the last name of Cruz, Barao or Faber. It would be well justified for him to get another title shot. With an impressive win McDonald could earn another title opportunity despite just being one fight removed from fighting for the title. The biggest hold-up for both could be Barao becoming the undisputed champion as Barao dominated both men. If Cruz defeats Barao, that opens up a whole new line of match-ups as McDonald and Cruz have yet to fight, and Cruz and Faber have unfinished business and were scheduled to fight a third time before Cruz’ injuries. This is a huge one for both men.
Tags: Michael McDonald, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC, UFC on FOX 9, Urijah Faber