On Feb 16th, the Wembley Arena in London, England hosts the UFC’s bantamweight championship between interim champion Renan Pegado and Michael McDonald. Who are you backing for your UFC betting in this one? Well let's look at the facts.
Despite Barao’s hype prior to entering the UFC in 2011, he’s maintained clear value in his last 3 matches- including last July’s title fight against Urijah Faber at UFC 149.
First, he closed at -125 against Pickett with the late betting steam coming in on the Englishmen, yet Barao still effortlessly dropped and choked his opponent out in the first round. Then as a -215 betting favorite over Scott Jorgensen, he easily controlled the distance for all three rounds and picked up a unanimous decision over a formally ranked top 5 bantamweight in the division.
And most recently, against Urijah Faber, he closed at -215 and nearly swept all 5 rounds after shattering one of the Californian’s ribs early in the fight- which to a degree, places a small asterisk on the victory.
Bantamweight Championship Prediction
With his current opponent Michael McDonald, the champion’s greatest obstacle will be offsetting the flawless timing and speed of McDonald’s counter right hand.
In the past, we’ve seen McDonald perfectly time and drop guys like Edwin Figueroa and Alex Soto with well-timed counter shots off his back foot. Most impressively, though, was his recent first round destruction of former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torress, who was put out cold after closing as a small (+115) underdog.
I have no doubt McDonald has the better hands of the two , the question is are they good enough to offset the superior kicking and firing range of the Brazilin champion in this fight.. Will it be Mcdonald’s timing and power in his hands that edge out the vast majority of the striking exchanges? Or will Barao’s rangier strikes and higher volume ultimately earn him the nod on the scorecards?
In terms of rating their respective defense and conditioning, I think you also have to marginally give an edge to Mcdonald in those areas.
McDonald was able to keep a rather high pace against both Chris Cariaso & Edwin Figueroa while Barao has shown clear signs of fatigue in past fight with Cole Escovedo and Scott Jorgensen, who arguably did just enough to steal the last round after Barao considerably slowed down in the third.
Also, defensively speaking, the way McDonald was slipping shots against Torres really shows how rapidly this kids defense have evolved from just a few fights prior when he was getting tagged by wild shots from Edwin Figueroa.
Barao, meanwhile, can be difficult to get inside on, but once you’re there, it’s not all that difficult for opponents to land cleanly on him.
Again, once the UFC odds are released, I’m hoping for a specific price range on McDonald as an underdog. If we can get something close to +145 or better, I like his chances of pulling off a moderate upset and becoming the new 135 pound champion in the UFC.UFC Pick: Michael McDonald at +145 or higher