UFC 145 is one of the most anticipated events of 2012, if only because we haven't seen a pay-per-view event since the end of February and every MMA fan is getting a little stir-crazy waiting for the next big-time fight.
While Jon Jones and Rashad Evans have been getting all the headlines and promotion, Michael McDonald vs. Miguel Torres could very well steal the show.
Since their inclusion into the UFC in 2011, featherweights have proved that they can put on some of the most action packed fights in the organization. In McDonald and Torres, fight fans will get to see two of the most exciting bantamweights in the sport.
McDonald hasn't wasted any time in establishing himself as one of the most exciting fighters in the division. He earned fight of the night honors in his UFC debut and knockout of the night honors in his last outing.
Torres may not have the youth and potential of McDonald, but he does have experience. Torres made a name for himself as one of the mainstays of the now defunct World Extreme Cagefighting promotion.
While on the WEC roster, Torres racked up three fight night bonuses including two "fight of the night" honors out of his eight appearances. Torres is 2-1 since making the transition to UFC.
Aside from the championship bout between Jones and Evans, no fight on the UFC 145 fight card will mean more for the immediate landscape of its weight division than the McDonald/Torres bout. Both are top ten talents in the weight class and each will be looking to make the other one a stepping stone on the path to a title.
There are subplots a plenty in this fight, none more obvious than the contrast between the generations.
Torres epitomizes the old guard. His superior Jiu-Jitsu skills have carried him through an impressive career that was built slowly on the regional scene and culminated with a championship in the largest promotion at the time for his weight class.
McDonald represents the "new breed" of fighters. Spearheaded by light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the under-25 crowd is beginning to supplant fighters like Torres. Surviving in the sport has always been a case of who is more fit. The recent evolution has shown that the younger generation may be the fittest of contenders.
Just 21 years old, McDonald has already built a 14-1 record including three UFC wins. At UFC 145 we get to see if he is really ready to be a member of the elite. McDonald could join Jones, Jose Aldo and fellow UFC 145 fighter, Rory MacDonald as young fighters at the top of their division.
For Torres, the McDonald bout is all about the risks and the potential rewards. Although he is one of the most well-known names in the division, his job isn't necessarily secure. His popularity factored in to his return to the UFC after a brief release in December 2011 for an inappropriate tweet. But a loss at UFC 145 could bring back thoughts of another, perhaps permanent, release.
A win over McDonald would be a huge step towards making a run at the UFC title and sustained relevancy.
His status and security hangs in the balance.
A hungry up-and-comer on the verge of stardom taking on an accomplished veteran trying to make another run at a title.
McDonald and Torres is sure to provide fireworks.