MacDonald (12-1, 3-1 UFC) vs. Che Mills
(14-4, 1-0 UFC)
The Matchup: The hype surrounding MacDonald seems to have subsided, but only because “Ares” hasn’t been seen since his TKO victory against Mike Pyle at UFC 133. The doesn’t change the fact that the 22-year-old remains one of the most talented prospects at welterweight in the UFC today, a man who once prompted Joe Rogan to wonder aloud if he wasn’t already better than teammate Georges St. Pierre at the same age. That might be pushing it, but had he survived a few more seconds against interim champion Carlos Condit, MacDonald’s record would still be perfect.
At the moment, the welterweight division is loaded with worthy contenders, so the UFC appears content to take its time with the ascent of the Tristar Gym representative. The matchup with Mills, who made his Octagon debut last November, illustrates this perfectly. The Englishman is coming off a “Knockout of the Night” performance against Chris Cope, but he isn’t the type of well-known commodity that can immediately launch McDonald into title contention. During the short period of time he was in the cage against Cope, Mills demonstrated good movement and poise on his feet and displayed excellent timing in connecting with a knee to the face of “The Ultimate Fighter 13” alum. Best known for his standup skill, Mills has a solid jab and would prefer to keep the fight with MacDonald upright.
MacDonald is a tough nut to crack in all aspects of the game, however. His solid fundamental boxing and athleticism allows him to score points in exchanges, and he transitions seamlessly between striking and takedowns. The former King of the Cage champion is active on the ground, constantly working to pass his opponent’s guard. MacDonald is never content to lay-and-pray, as he employs ground-and-pound with a purpose and has a good finishing instinct. The methods by which MacDonald can attack vary from fight to fight -- witness his belly-to-back suplex series against Nate Diaz at UFC 129 -- and he is still has room to grow when it comes to sheer physical strength.
The Pick: Mills will be able to notice the difference in talent level between MacDonald and Cope almost immediately. Outside of him somehow catching MacDonald unaware for a quick knockout, it’s difficult to see Mills having an advantage anywhere in this fight. MacDonald wins a few exchanges on the feet before taking his foe down and finishing with ground-and-pound in the second frame.
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