In his loss to interim UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao, Michael McDonald feels he fought like a one-dimensional fighter.
Of course, he’s not actually one-dimensional.
“Just watching the tape, I felt almost frustrated,” McDonald told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I felt like a one-dimensional fighter. I have the skills to do everything. I do them in the gym, but there’s always been a little hesitation in the ring.”
McDonald was content to counterpunch Barao. The game plan didn’t work, though, and eventually he succumbed to an arm-triangle choke 3:57 into the fourth round.
“I think I kind of hit my max doing the strategies that I did with Renan Barao, just kind of sitting back and counterpunching,” McDonald said. “I did those for certain reasons. I always had injuries when I’d start throwing kicks and I was trying to take care of my body, just sitting back and counterpunching, but I couldn’t see Renan Barao’s punches coming. He had a very unorthodox way of punching. I couldn’t see them coming.”
The loss reminded McDonald he must be a well-rounded fighter in the cage, not just in the gym. An injury hampered his ability to kick against Barao, but he’s since focused on taking care of his body and adding muscle to make sure he’ll be able to use all of his tools. He’ll have a chance to show a more complete game Saturday when he meets Brad Pickett at UFC Fight Night 26.
“I’m excited to go in and just really do everything and be a complete martial artist and take down and kick and elbow and knee and everything else,” McDonald said. “I think Brad Pickett’s going to be a good start to that because I think he does the same.”
McDonald expects the fight to play out everywhere -- on the ground and on the feet, with plenty of scrambles. Standing up, though, in particular is where McDonald has seen a weakness in Pickett’s game.
“I think he relies on his chin a little bit more than he does his head movement,” McDonald said. “I don’t think that’s a good thing. I’ve seen him get popped a few times by quite a few people and them not be able to put him down, and you can do that with most people in the bantamweight division because they’re not knockout artists, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to do that with me. I think he has to keep his head moving and not rely on his chin. I think he needs to rely on his evasion more than his chin because I have the power to touch him and put him away.”
Pickett is a tough challenge, but he also presents McDonald an opportunity to bounce back with a good win after suffering just the second loss of his career. The 22-year-old believes he’s already learned from the defeat to Barao, and he’ll be looking to capitalize on those lessons against Pickett.
“I had a list of 20 things that I just needed to modify, and it’s rare that you get to do that,” McDonald said. “I think as an overall martial artist, it’s helped me a lot.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 57:54).