UFC on FUEL TV 7: Interim Bantamweight Title - Renan Barao (-260) vs. Michael McDonald (+180)
UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao puts his belt on the line for the first time when he takes on up-and-comer Michael McDonald at Wembley Arena in London, England Saturday.
McDonald, at only 22 years old, could become the youngest champion in UFC history if he’s able to pull off the upset. The champion Barao entered as a -260 favorite while McDonald opened as a +180 underdog.
Barao (29-1-1) is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, having gone undefeated in his last 29 bouts since losing his pro debut by split decision. The 25-year-old Brazilian defeated Urijah Faber to claim the interim bantamweight belt and he also holds dominant wins over standouts Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett.
Barao is a strong grappler - he has 13 submissions to his credit - and a dominant striker, with the cardio to go five full rounds. He’s just a phenomenal fighter in every sense of the term. He’s the rightful favorite in this fight but if he takes McDonald lightly he could be in trouble.
McDonald (15-1) is coming off an impressive KO win over former WEC bantamweight champion at Miguel Torres. However, that fight was at UFC 145 last April. He’ll be coming off a near 10-month layoff against Barao - he was mending a broken hand - and if he experiences any ring rust, it won’t help his cause at all.
The one advantage McDonald has over Barao is power. He has nine wins via TKO, compared to Barao’s six. He definitely has a puncher’s chance to win this fight, but his cardio is a question mark because he’s never been five rounds. McDonald’s best chance to win is in the first round, because after that you can expect Barao to take over.
I expect this to be a very competitive fight that goes the distance. Ultimately, though, I think that Barao’s proven cardio, his use of legs kicks, his superior wrestling, and his overall experience in five-round championship fights will help him out quite a bit in this match.
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