Already at this point in his UFC career even with only one fight, Michael McDonald may be the most grounded fighter in the promotion.
McDonald, who battled Edwin Figueroa at UFC Fight Night 24, walked out of his first UFC event with a $55,000 bonus check for “Fight of the Night” and a lot of people calling him the top prospect at 135 pounds.
While he appreciates the accolades, McDonald isn’t ready to put the cart before the horse just yet. He likes the way his career is going, and doesn’t plan on calling out UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz tomorrow.
“I’m very real about realizing my age and I have a long way to go until I’m at my best. I think I’m definitely good enough to hang with the top level of competition in the world, but still in all reality, I’m 20 years old and I’ve got a long ways to go,” McDonald told MMAWeekly Radio.
It’s that very perspective that makes McDonald a rare breed in the sport. It’s hard for any athlete not to jump ahead after an impressive performance and everyone singing your praises after the job is done.
At only 20 years of age, McDonald knows he has a lot of room to grow in the sport, and he’s not trying to get ahead of himself before he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m very content taking the slowest road possible to the top. Slowest road to the top means I’m going to be better when I get there,” said McDonald. “I’m definitely in no hurry, I just want to fight, get a few checks, make my name out there, just prepare my career. I’m not too focused on ‘oh I’ve got to get that title’ or anything. I’m very content with where I’m at.”
Following the fight against Figueroa at UFC Fight Night 24, McDonald also received the news via the internet that the Washington State Department of Licensing had issued him an indefinite medical suspension. He was a little confused about it at first, but his manager, Tom Call, explained the situation.
The suspension stems from the suspicion that McDonald may have broken his hand in the fight.
McDonald was taken to the hospital to get his hand x-rayed, which showed that it was not broken. Call says that the suspension will be cleared up once McDonald’s doctor in California gets a chance to check the x-ray and his hand before turning in the proper paperwork to the Washington State Department of Licensing.
McDonald says he feels fine, and there have been no issues with the hand since fight night.
“My hand’s a little bit swollen, but it’s not broken.”
Outside of a swollen hand, McDonald is already back teaching class and helping out other aspiring fighters. He won’t go full on into sparring until his hand is ready, but what he will do is wait for the UFC to call and offer him his next fight in a few months.
McDonald says it doesn’t matter who he fights, it’s always been a matter of when and where.
“My biggest thing isn’t really taking any time mentally off, I’m in the gym already, I’m teaching, I’m in there helping my teammates, this is what I love to do,” McDonald said. “It’s not a burden. I just can’t physically do anything yet cause my hand’s still a little bit swollen and I want to baby it.
“What the comfort zone for me is usually about 4 months for another fight.”
Look for McDonald to take his next step forward in the UFC’s bantamweight division this summer.
(UPDATED at 11:35 a.m. PT on March 30, 2011, to include details about McDonald’s medical suspension.)