If Michael McDonald defeats interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao this Saturday in London and becomes the youngest titleholder in UFC history, many people may ask to see the Californian’s birth certificate, because it’s hard to believe that he’s only 22 years old.
And that’s not just a reflection on his fighting ability, which has resulted in 15 wins out of 16 pro fights, four of them coming in the UFC, but on his maturity outside the Octagon and his approach to the sport. Truth be told though, while he’s just 22 chronologically, in fight years, he’s a grizzled vet.
“I think now I have about 10-12 years invested into this sport,” said McDonald, who turned pro in 2007 at the age of 16. “A lot of people ask me about my age, and it’s not really a factor. It’s more of a factor when you’re 16 or something like that. But once you reach around 18 to 20, all it is is how much time your mind has had to progress in martial arts and just whether your body can carry out your knowledge. And my knowledge of martial arts is vast, and now at 22, my body is as capable as anybody else’s is, whether they’re 25, 30, or 35, or whatever. My body is just as capable as theirs, and my knowledge is just as much as theirs as well.”