Michael McDonald showed the world why so many see Ultimate Fighting Championship gold in his not-too-distant future.
McDonald submitted American Top Team’s Brad Pickett with a second-round triangle choke at UFC Fight Night 26 on Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. Having entered the cage on the strength of 13 wins in his previous 16 bouts, Pickett (23-8, 3-3 UFC) conceded defeat 3:43 into round two.
The 22-year-old McDonald (16-2, 5-1 UFC) was utterly exceptional. He had Pickett reeling inside the first 90 seconds, as he blasted the Englishman with a wicked barrage of power punches.
“I honestly didn’t think his chin was going to be good enough to [withstand] my power, but he took them,” McDonald said. “I’ve never hit anybody that hard that many times and [had them stay standing].”
Pickett somehow stayed conscious during the attack and survived to see a second round. There, his fortunes seemed to turn, as he delivered a takedown and work some short elbows from inside guard. However, McDonald was waiting to spring his trap. In an instant, he threw up a triangle armbar before settling for the choke. Pickett struggled to free himself, but his efforts went for naught.
“I was just trying to relax and make sure I didn’t have any lactic acid buildup,” McDonald said. “I was waiting until my legs and arms were strong before I threw that [triangle] up.”
Standup, Takedowns Fuel McGregor Victory
Clean, accurate punches paired with a dazzling array of kicks and a series of takedowns spurred former two-division Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Conor McGregor to a unanimous decision over Max Holloway in an undercard tilt at 145 pounds. All three judges sided with McGregor (14-2, 2-0 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Holloway (7-3, 3-3 UFC) seemed mesmerized throughout the first round, as the Irishman blasted him with high-velocity strikes to the head and body, showing no regard for the return fire. In rounds two and three, McGregor, citing a knee injury, turned to takedowns. He was successful there, too, as he grounded Holloway repeatedly and mounted him midway through the third round.
“[The fan response is] crazy,” McGregor said. “I’m at a loss for words. I wanted to keep it standing and put him away, but my whole knee just popped out midway through the second round. I had to change it up and look for the takedown. [I’m ready] wherever fight goes. I don’t plan nothing. I knew Max was a tough competitor and would give me some good exchanges, and he did, but midway through the second round, I got that injury, so you have to adapt and overcome.”
Siler KOs Former WEC Champion Brown
Steven Siler needed less than a minute to dispatch onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion Mike Thomas Brown with punches in a preliminary featherweight encounter. Brown (26-9, 2-4 UFC) met his end 50 seconds into round one.
Siler (23-10, 5-1 UFC) floored the American Top Team veteran with a short right uppercut and followed him to the canvas. Hammerfists fell next before a pair of vicious standing-to-ground right hands knocked Brown unconscious and forced referee Yves Lavigne to intervene on his behalf.
“This is a big, big win,” Siler said. “I saw I hurt him and didn’t want him to be able to pull guard, so I just kept hammerfisting him. I definitely tried to stop. I knew it was over, and it was a huge win. I understand how big it is to beat Mike Brown.”
Jackson’s Brandao Outpoints Pineda
Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Diego Brandao recorded his seventh victory in eight appearances, as he captured a unanimous decision from former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Daniel Pineda in an undercard clash at 145 pounds. All three judges arrived at the same decision, awarding Brandao (18-8, 4-1 UFC) matching 29-28 scorecards.
Brandao did his best work in the first round, where he dropped his adversary to a knee with a right hook and drove him to the canvas with a multi-punch combination. Pineda (18-10, 3-3 UFC) answered in the second, as he countered a takedown from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner by sweeping into mount with a kimura and dropping elbows and punches from the top.
Though visibly fatigued, Brandao weathered the assault and pushed the bout to a third round. There, he delivered four takedowns, largely neutralized Pineda and secured the decision.
Gamburyan Takedowns Elicit Decision
Takedowns, a heavy top game and mild ground-and-pound carried “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 finalist Manny Gamburyan to a unanimous decision over American Top Team’s Cole Miller in an undercard duel at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Gamburyan (13-7, 4-5 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
A Gokor Chivichyan protégé, the 32-year-old Gamburyan struck for frustrating takedowns in all three rounds and did his best to keep his lanky opponent pinned to the mat. Miller (19-8, 8-6 UFC) made his case with effective jabs, stout knees and elbows from the bottom, but he spent too much time on his back in the eyes of the judges.
St. Preux Scores Spectacular Stoppage
Ovince St. Preux won for the 11th time in 12 outings, as he put away Grudge Training Center representative Cody Donovan with first-round ground-and-pound in a preliminary light heavyweight affair. A former linebacker with the University of Tennessee football team, St. Preux (14-5, 2-0 UFC) brought the match to a decisive close 2:07 into round one.
Donovan (8-3, 1-1 UFC) scored with some close-quarters knees to the body, but his successes proved fleeting. St. Preux countered a takedown with a whizzer, set up shop in top position and unleashed a string of left hands that rendered his foe unconscious. The defeat halted Donovan’s four-fight winning streak.
Vick Guillotine Submits Nijem
James Vick could not have envisioned a smoother Octagon debut, as he submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem with a first-round guillotine choke in an undercard scrap at 155 pounds. Nijem (7-4, 3-3 UFC) succumbed to the choke 58 seconds into round one.
In his first appearance in nearly two years, the unbeaten Vick (5-0, 1-0 UFC) ate a few leg kicks out of the gate, stuffed an attempted takedown and snatched the fight-ending guillotine. The 26-year-old Mineral Wells, Texas, native has finished four of his first five opponents inside one round.