Nineteen-year-old bantamweight phenom Michael McDonald officially became the youngest fighter on the Zuffa, LLC roster on Thursday night with his debut on the undercard of WEC 52. The results no doubt raised some eyebrows in the soon-to-be UFC 135-pound division. If not for Cub Swanson’s epic battle with Mackens Semerzier, this one would’ve been a shoe-in for some TV time. McDonald rolled into this bout with seven straight T/KO victories and a record that would seem to indicate he’s been fighting as a pro since age 16. Is that shit even legal? Anyway, his most recent back-to-back victories over WEC vets Manny Tapia and Cole Escovedo at Taichi Palace were good enough to score him a contract with the big show and the kid doesn’t disappoint here.
McDonald looks a little bit like a very emaciated Joe Riggs during his pre-fight interviews, as he laughs off opponent Clint Godfrey’s suggestion that he won’t be ready for this level of competition. The South Dakota boy Godfrey — who trusty CagePotato commenter Karma Ate My Cat told us not to sleep on before we started taping this week’s Bum Rush – looks game, but ultimately overmatched in his second fight in the big blue cage. Obviously you know who wins but some play-by-play spoilers are after the jump, so if you’re gonna pitch a bitch about that watch the video before reading on.
Some scene-setters: Picture it, Vegas, November 2010. Referee Josh Rosenthall gets things started with the smirk of a man who’s going to let someone get choked almost to death later in the evening. A dude in the crowd hollers, “Punch him in the face!” just before the opening bell and then we’re off.
Godfrey comes out throwing a hard low kick and immediately this fight turns into one of those where you think, “Uh-oh,” as McDonald tags him with a counterpunch and then grins at him. Undeterred, a few seconds later Godfrey throws the kick with the other leg and this time catches a 1-2 and then gets dropped with an additional straight right.
After a few GNP strikes, McDonald lets him back up and play-by-play announcer Todd Harris wonders aloud if the kid just wants to show off his all-around game to WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby. It’s a legitimate question. As an aside, let me just say that it will be a shame if the UFC doesn’t find a place for Harris in the post-merger Zuffa world. Harris is one of the few live event announcers in the sport who just goes out and conducts himself competently as a professional without a bunch of goofy catch-phrases and unintelligible shouting. Frankly, it’s a nice breath of fresh air from the norm.
Anyway, McDonald’s decision to let Godfrey up looks for a few fleeting moments like it might be a mistake after Godfrey dumps him on his head with a hard takedown. Not to worry though, as McDonald first ties him up from the guard and then locks on an arm bar that elicits a quick tap. Game, set, match.
With a featherweight champ who is just barely 24 (and about to defend his title against a 22-year-old), a bantamweight champ who is 25 and bunch of youngsters like McDonald starting to appear on the scene, it’s clear that the future of the WEC’s weight classes is very, very bright … even if the WEC itself won’t be around to reap the benefits.