UFC 139 Results: A Victorious Michael McDonald Ranks Among Top 10 UFC Prospects

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2011

UFC 139 Results: A Victorious Michael McDonald Ranks Among Top 10 UFC Prospects

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    UFC 139 was downright awesome.

    It should have been the card featured on the UFC's debut on FOX, but let's just agree that Dana White dropped the ball on that one.

    Regardless, Saturday proved that even without a title bout on the main card, fireworks can still go off.

    Beyond the immediate showdowns that featured an epic fight between Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua, a submission victory for Urijah Faber and a KO by Wanderlei Silva, the Spike prelims showcased one of the best prospects that the UFC has to offer.

    Twenty-year-old Michael "Mayday" McDonald.

    I've written about this kid a few times in the past, and everything I thought he'd be, he is.

    McDonald has easily become one of the most explosive fighters in the bantamweight division, and with his age and room for improvement, he's currently on the fast track to UFC supremacy.

    With that said, alongside McDonald, here are the top 10 prospects in the UFC today.

Stipe Miocic

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    While many UFC fans bode well as far as knowing which fighters possess enough skill to test their respective divisions, not a lot of people know about Stipe Miocic's ability inside the cage.

    The 29-year-old outstriked and outwrestled brawler Joey Beltran in his first UFC bout.

    Currently at 7-0 overall, Miocic's victory over a hard-hitting Beltran opened a lot of eyes as to what the Croatian is capable of doing inside the Octagon.

    He may be a smaller version of Mirko Cro Cop and a small heavyweight at that, but his speed and mechanics at 240 lbs. could allow Miocic to venture off into divisional contendership.

Paul Sass

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    To be honest with you, Paul Sass is not a name that jumps off the computer screen.

    But regardless of his inexperienced background fighting out of England, we'll just have to pay respect where it's due.

    Sass is currently rocking an undefeated 12-0 record, two of those wins coming in the UFC via first-round submissions.

    His last victory against a hungry prospect in himself, Michael Johnson, showcased Sass' ability to end fights on the ground against skilled strikers.

    The future is bright for the 23-year-old, but he'll have to win two or three more fights before getting a chance to dismantle a well-known contender in the lightweight division.

Jonathan Brookins

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    Speaking of Jonathan Brookins, here he is.

    Not a lot of people know, but before his eventual capture of The Ultimate Fighter, Brookins fought current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo back at WEC 36.

    Aldo did in fact KO Brookins in the third round, but the 26-year-old held his own against one of the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world.

    With his level of intelligence inside the cage, alongside his youth and unorthodox striking, Brookins should have no trouble shaking off the Eric Koch loss and regaining his momentum at 145 lbs.

Chris Weidman

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    Chris Weidman continues to impress.

    The 27-year-old is currently undefeated in the UFC at 3-0, with his most recent victory coming this weekend against veteran Tom Lawlor.

    It was the first time in his career that Weidman fought a serious veteran, and he showed no signs of slowing up, submitting Lawlor in the first round.

    With awesome wrestling and improving stand-up, "The All-American" is on the verge of becoming a main-card filler, making his career nothing but promising.

    Lets hope his training with Matt Serra continues to pay off.

Dave Herman

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    Dave Herman has only recorded one fight in the UFC, but his destruction of a hard-chinned Jon Olav Einemo at UFC 131 has instantly made him a player in the heavyweight division.

    Herman's stand-up against Einemo looked top-notch, using his 6'4" frame to strike from the outside and inside the clinch.

    The 27-year-old may have trouble against better wrestlers in the heavyweight division, but his speed and willingness to take a shot could end up working to his advantage.

    Herman hasn't fought since June, but an early-2012 bout should allow him to showcase his striking skills once again.

Rory MacDonald

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    Don't let his George St-Pierre resemblance fool you, Rory MacDonald is the real deal.

    MacDonald is literally a prodigy.  The kid is only 22 years old, trains with the aforementioned St-Pierre and his only loss in his career came against No. 1 welterweight contender Carlos Condit.

    Besides his inability to stand with Condit, MacDonald has knocked off some serious names such as Nate Diaz and Mike Pyle.

    The Pyle victory came via a first-round TKO, and his three-round wrestling clinic against Diaz truly launched him into consideration as the biggest up-and-comer in the UFC.

    MacDonald's jiu-jitsu and striking heading into 2012 could allow the young prospect to rack off three or four victories, placing him in discussions for No. 1 contender at the end of the year.

Edson Barboza

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    The fact of the matter is that Edson Barboza is one of the most promising fighters in the UFC.

    At 25 years old, the Brazilian has compiled a perfect UFC record of 3-0, 9-0 overall in his career.

    Barboza is a very skilled striker who uses aggression and technique to explode with combinations.  His most recent victory over English brawler Ross Pearson showcased just that.

    His next bout, coming at UFC 142 against another English fighter in Terry Etim, could launch him into the upper-echelon of the lightweight division.

    And who knows, with the departure of BJ Penn from the UFC, Barboza could be the next guy in line to fill the vacant contender spot at 155.

Tony Ferguson

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    Tony Ferguson is one bad dude.

    His destruction of Ramsey Nijem for The Ultimate Fighter rights, and his most recent victory of Aaron Riley via doctor-stoppage in the first round, has cemented "El Cucuy" as one of the most dynamic strikers in the lightweight division.

    The only thing missing for the 27-year-old is a victory over a tenured UFC veteran.

    Well, considering he's ironically scheduled to fight Yves Edwards at The Ultimate Fighter finale on Dec. 3, Ferguson will have his chance to prove he deserves to be considered a top-10, 155-lb fighter.

    Food for thought, Ferguson landed 31 strikes on Riley during that first round, so it's pretty evident the guy throws punches in bunches.

Erik Koch

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    Erik Koch is indeed the "New Breed" of UFC featherweight fighters.

    But besides his obvious nickname cliche, Koch's heavy hands, skilled striking and toughness have provided him with the structures of a future division champ.

    His only loss in his career, coming at WEC 47, was at the hands of No. 1 contender Chad Mendes.

    Koch's most recent victory against fellow prospect Jonathan Brookins, winner of The Ultimate Fighter,  instantly transformed the 23-year-old into a household name.

    At this point in his career, considering he trains with Brian Bowles and Pat Barry, Koch has one of the highest ceilings out of any UFC fighter today.

    HIs next fight, which comes against Dustin Poirier at UFC 143 in February, should tell everyone whether or not he's ready for a UFC title shot.

Michael McDonald

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    Well, here he is.

    Even before recording one of the year's most vicious and most memorable knockouts at UFC 139, Michael "Mayday" McDonald was considered a top-three prospect in the UFC.

    Not only for the fact that he's the youngest fighter around at 20 years old, but more or less because he boasts a perfect UFC record and some of the nastiest hands in the bantamweight division.

    In a fight where an unorthodox and wild Alex Soto slung an array of punches his way, McDonald tentatively stayed in the pocket, delivered a nasty hook and jumped on the unexpecting 27-year-old Mexican.

    Following precise counterpunching, McDonald showcased his raw power as he delivered a crippling knockout punch that sloped Soto against the cage.

    If this fight was not enough proof to convince MMA fans that a 20-year-old could be the future of the UFC, I don't know what is.