UFC 145: Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald Head-to-Toe Breakdown
On Saturday, former WEC champion Miguel Torres will return to the Octagon for the first time since his brief UFC release for controversial Twitter behavior.
Quoting Workaholics, Torres typed, "If a rape van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn't mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises."
Despite recent comments from other UFC fighters that were arguably in even worse taste, UFC president Dana White decided to cut Torres from the organization for his remarks. However, after apologizing, Torres was promptly reinstated as a UFC fighter in December.
Now Torres will meet a rising bantamweight star in 21-year-old Michael McDonald, who has won seven straight fights since the only loss of his career. The winner of this important matchup could find themselves within a win or two of competing for the 135-pound belt.
Let's take a look at which fighter has the advantage heading into the UFC 145 bout.
Miguel Torres owns one of the best jabs in the bantamweight division, but the former 135-pound king has not been as aggressive as he once was since losing his WEC title by knockout after eating a counter-punch from Brian Bowles.
While he will have to deal with Torres' reach advantage, Michael McDonald has shown potentially greater knockout power than his UFC 145 opponent, as the up-and-coming fighter has knocked out Alex Soto, Cole Escovedo and Manny Tapia.
McDonald is quick enough to work his way inside on Torres and has a reach long enough that he can avoid be jabbed to a decision, as Torres was able to do against a much shorter Antonio Banuelos.
With 23 career submission wins, Torres has always been confident enough in his ground game that he hasn't worried about giving up takedowns. However, that approach led to a recent loss when Torres was unable to work off his back or lock up a submission against Demetrious Johnson.
If McDonald is confident in his ability to avoid being submitted for the first time in his career, it might not be a bad game plan for him to take this fight to the ground and try to survive in Torres' dangerous guard.
Although it was one of his less impressive victories, McDonald's win over Chris Cariaso this past May was due in large part to McDonald's ground game.
In his first two UFC fights against Edwin Figueroa and Chris Cariaso, Michael McDonald showed off a strong ground game. However, McDonald still hasn't displayed his ground game over a long period of time against another elite grappler like Miguel Torres.
Torres was recently controlled by Demetrious Johnson on the ground, but "Mighty Mouse" is a more proven fighter than McDonald and was forced to fight off submission attempts despite walking away with the victory.
If he does take Torres down, McDonald may be able to grind out a decision victory, but he will also be forced to work very hard to pass his opponent's active guard.
Though McDonald has never been submitted, he has also never faced an opponent as dangerous on the ground as Torres. With 23 career submissions, Torres is certainly capable of becoming the first fighter to make McDonald tap.
Ultimately, McDonald will have to decide whether avoiding Torres' reach advantage by taking the fight to the ground it is worth the risk of being submitted by a Carlson Gracie-trained black belt.
Having competed in five WEC title fights, there's no question that Miguel Torres is a more seasoned fighter than the 21-year-old Michael McDonald. Conversely, Saturday will mark McDonald's first time competing on the main card of a UFC event.
Training at Tristar Gym, Torres will also be well-prepared for this matchup by top-notch training partners and an excellent coach in Firas Zahabi.
McDonald may be the younger and quicker competitor in this matchup, but Torres was once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and remains an elite athlete. The former champion also holds a reach advantage heading into this contest.
As with a large percentage of bantamweights, conditioning shouldn't become an issue for either of these fighters.
A more veteran Michael McDonald could overwhelm Miguel Torres. However, an inexperienced McDonald will step into the Octagon a more tentative fighter than usual against one of the best bantamweight fighters ever.
If he doesn't take the fight to Torres early and allows the former titleholder to find his range, this bout will quickly turn into a learning experience for McDonald.
Once Torres starts landing his jab, McDonald is going to have a difficult time working inside or taking the fight to the ground. Even if McDonald does drag Torres to the ground, the former WEC champion has more ways to finish the fight from the canvas.
McDonald may score a takedown or two, but Torres will use submission attempts to escape and should find a way to keep this fight standing for the most part. The veteran will take advantage of his younger opponent's slow start and should walk away with a decision win by landing more leather from distance.
Torres defeats McDonald by unanimous decision.