UFC on Fuel 7 Primer: Questions We Have About Michael McDonald

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIFebruary 16, 2013

UFC on Fuel 7 Primer: Questions We Have About Michael McDonald

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    The climax of Michael McDonald's career may very well take place during the UFC on Fuel TV 7 broadcast.

    It's actually hard to argue for or against. At the age of 22, McDonald is aiming to become the youngest UFC champion in UFC history. But even if he fails, his youth suggests that he'll have another title shot waiting down the road.

    But there's no sure thing in MMA. His opponent, Renan Barao, defends his interim title as a -325 favorite against McDonald, and he's won 29 of his last 30 fights. The climb to become the youngest champion is steep.

    So going into the biggest fight of his young career, here are five questions fans may have for the challenger.

Is McDonald Ready for This?

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    Let's start things off with a simple question—is he ready?

    Though McDonald has 16 professional fights under his belt (five under the Zuffa brand), he lacks experience compared to Renan Barao.

    Barao (29-1, 1 NC) has been there and done that against elite competition. In his last fight, he won the interim belt in the main event of UFC 149 against former featherweight champion Urijah Faber.

    We've seen him perform under the bright lights, and he passed with flying colors. So how will McDonald react?

    Is he mature enough to handle main-eventing a fight card in London, England? Will he rise to the occasion?

Can He Keep It Standing?

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    McDonald's best chance of winning this fight is to keep the fight on the feet.

    Barao is not only larger and more well-rounded than McDonald, but he's a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with 13 submission victories. 

    So, though Barao has incredible standup with a barrage of kicks in his arsenal, he may try to take this fight to the ground, where he'll hold an advantage over McDonald.

    It's up to McDonald to stuff any takedown attempts and use great foot movement to avoid being pushed against the cage.

    If he does this, his championship hopes will stay alive.

Will He Win the Striking Battle?

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    So let's say McDonald keeps the fight standing—can he win the striking battle?

    Flying knees, spinning heel kicks and many other unorthdox strikes are possessed by Barao, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's the better striker.

    Most fans believe Barao will hold the advantage on the feet. However, don't underestimate the skills of McDonald.

    With crisp combinations and slick foot movement, McDonald slips and rips like nobody else in the bantamweight division. Just ask Miguel Torres how good his boxing.

    Should these two great strikers go toe-to-toe, don't be surprised to see McDonald get the better of most exchanges.

Will His Hand Be a Factor?

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    Is McDonald fully healthy?

    McDonald's last fight took place at UFC 145 last April because he had to undergo hand surgery in 2012. As you can tell by the video embedded in the slide, his hand looked disfigured on Dec. 29, 2012.

    Obviously, McDonald is cleared to fight, but that doesn't mean a small miscalculation from McDonald couldn't re-injure his hand.

    Therefore, going into this bout, fans should keep an eye on McDonald's right hand. As we've seen in the past, hands can easily be broken, and should McDonald suffer another hand injury, he'll be up a certain creek without a paddle.

    Here's to hoping McDonald's hand holds up.

Will He Become the Youngest Champion in UFC History?

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    Who doesn't like witnessing history? Glory is but one victory away for McDonald.

    Though he downplays the notion of being the UFC's youngest champion in history, it certainly would be a sight to see for all MMA fans.

    And though he's taking the humble approach, you know deep down McDonald wants this badly. But is it achievable? Can he take down this Brazilian phenom to achieve this amazing goal? 

    If McDonald fights smart, keeps it standing and strikes like all fans know he can strike, he has more than a chance.

    Though he's the underdog, he's one of the best young fighters the UFC has to offer. The lights are shining brighter than ever before for him. It's his time to go out there and make history.