In this day and age of “gotta have it now” immediate access and “always-on” connectivity via Facebook and Twitter, it’s somewhat surprising to hear a fighter with the attitude that 22-year-old Michael McDonald carries into his next bout.
“Each fight is another fight; another test,” Mayday said in a recent UFC interview. “I don’t want to think about where I’m going to be or where I should be or where I can be. I just want to think about each step.”
This attitude follows him into what most would characterize as the biggest fight of his career. McDonald has the opportunity to become the youngest UFC champion in history, squaring off against interim UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao in the UFC on Fuel TV 7 main event in London on Saturday.
A championship is often times the culmination of a fighter’s dreams, and they’ll take it as soon as they can get it, putting all the weight of the world on winning a UFC belt.
McDonald may eventually come to the realization that he has accomplished something big, something special, if indeed he does walk out of the Octagon with the belt on Saturday, but for now, he’s zoned out such thoughts, focusing instead on matters he can control.
There’ll be time for pining about his glories after they have become a reality.
“I feel like if I am going to look at it, if I am going to let it sink in, the time is afterwards. The time isn’t right now,” McDonald says with the grizzled outlook of a veteran eyeing the sunset, not the bright-eyed exuberance of youth.
“I’m human like anybody else and my mind, my emotions are open for corruption if I let it in. I don’t want to let in anything different from this fight than all my other fights. This is just another day,” he continued.
“Maybe afterwards I’ll think about it and be happy with myself or whatever else, but now is not the time.”
It’s a refreshing attitude from the brash, chest beating that typically leads up to a fight, but it is totally in McDonald’s character. He’s carried himself with a surprising amount of reserve his entire career. And it has served him well to do so.
McDonald currently stands at 15-1 in his professional career, including all four of his bouts in the Octagon.
But McDonald knows all of that is for naught if he simply lets the belt blind him.
The true focus can’t be on the shiny object that could find its way around his waist; the true focus has to be on Barao. The title doesn’t come his way if he can’t see the man standing before him because of the glare.
McDonald sees Barao, however, and sees him clearly.
“He’s good everywhere. I think the more difficult thing about Renan is the high flying moves, a lot of flying knees and stuff like that. Those are tricky, a little bit harder to counter and engage,” McDonald said in breaking down his opposition, but he remains confident.
“I think I have good odds when I get stacked against him as a martial artist. Records don’t matter. Highlights don’t matter. Media doesn’t matter.”
Sticking to the attitude that got him to this point, McDonald isn’t over-confident, though. He knows the task before him is a great one.
“He is unique and does what he does very well. I think it will be a challenge.”