December 30, 2015

UFC 195 Offers Michael McDonald the Chance To Jump Back Into the UFC Youth Movement

By Raphael Garcia

A number of mixed martial arts fighters have received of a lot of hype early in their careers, and as with many other professional sports, these individuals do not always reach those expectations. The UFC has seen this kind of letdown occur multiple times, and very few succeed in making a comeback. However, at UFC 195, Michael McDonald is attempting to buck that trend.

The last few years have seen the emergence of a youth movement throughout the UFC. Younger competitors are beginning to supplant the long standing professional fighters that have ruled the sport throughout recent memory. Currently, prospects such as Sage Northcutt, Johnny Case, and Paige VanZant continually pop up in the headlines, but McDonald was there before any of the others.

The 24-year old is due to return to the cage for the first time in two years. And with his Octagon return imminent, there are a number of questions surrounding the fighter:

First and foremost, there are questions about the injuries that have taken their toll on McDonald. He missed all of the last two years due to multiple injuries, including to his hands and wrists. In a sport where the athletes are expected to batter their opponents, one must wonder how much more punishment McDonald’s limbs can take and deliver at the same time. We’ve seen quite a few fighters throughout various combat sports struggle with injuries to their hands that have cut into the length of their careers.

Then, there are questions about the time off. Very few fighters look much like themselves after coming back from extensive time away from the cage. (That is what made Dominick Cruz’s return so impressive when he blew away Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 178, before going back out to injury.) Fighters coming back after long layoffs usually point towards issues with timing and “Octagon jitters” in their return bouts, so it will be interesting to see whether McDonald has to deal with similar issues.

McDonald was ranked in the Top 10 of this division when he left, and he’s being reintroduced to competition against an opponent who is well outside of the Top 15. Masanori Kanehara is a relative newcomer to the promotion with a 1-1 UFC record and a 25-12-5 overall professional record. Best Fight Odds lists McDonald as a -550 favorite going into this bout and this is the exact type of “tune-up” affair that gives him a chance to show what he has left to offer at this point in his career.

The UFC bantamweight division currently lacks the star power that other weight classes possess. At one time, McDonald was expected to reach a position of prominence within the division, but in matchups against Renan Barao and Urijah Faber, the youngster dropped the biggest fights in his young career. But at UFC 195, after some time off, as well as the opportunity to heal his injuries, McDonald is poised for a run in the division that can add new life to his stalled career.

UFC 195
Masanori Kanehara vs. Michael McDonald

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UFC 195: Lawler vs. Condit takes place on January 2, 2016 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 195 will be.