Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
UFC bantamweight title contender Michael McDonald has a unique approach to Saturday night's championship fight against interim beltholder Renan Barao. Find out why he's trying to eliminate distractions below.
But, if you ask him, the title is the last thing on his mind.
In fact, he feels that even bringing up the fact that this fight is for the belt is an unnecessary distraction which would keep him from focusing on the task at hand, which is to win.
And he's done plenty of that, going 15-1 in his professional career including two straight vicious first round knockouts in his last two fights, one of them over former WEC superstar Miguel Torres.
"I didn't see the belt and I don't care that it's there. That's not what it's about for me. It's just like any other fight. If you think, 'Oh my god, this is the first time I'm fighting for a title!' you get a sense of anxiousness and you don't feel like you've been there before. But, if I feel like I've been there 26 times before this then everything's alright."
On top of fighting for the title, "Mayday" has an opportunity to become the youngest champion in UFC history, having just turned 22 less than a month ago.
But again, he's trying not to think about it.
"If I'm going to let it sink in, the time is afterwards, not now. I'm human just like anybody else and my mind, my emotions are open for corruption if I let it in. I don't want to let in anything different for this fight than all my other fights. It's just another day. Maybe afterwards I'll think about it and be happy with myself or whatever but right now the task in front of me is it."
While the title is every fighter's dream, McDonald had no intention of pushing for a shot at the belt, calling top tier fighters out or trying to leap frog any other contenders. He didn't want to be on the fast track for a title opportunity, instead letting his fists do the talking and slowly progressing up the bantamweight divisional ladder.
"I took a very conservative approach, not calling anybody out to make sure that when I get here I'm ready. Of course everybody thinks they're ready but I wanted to see people's fighting style and understand their fighting style. I believe that when you understand something you can either break it, build it or repair it and until I can understand the people that I'm fighting against, my competition fully, I wanted to really be patient and I feel confident that I can look at people and understand what they're doing now."
If McDonald can keep his head on straight, he has a great shot at dethroning Barao, especially considering the fact that he possesses some of the biggest one-punch power in the entire bantamweight division.
But, that "just another fight" mindset might backfire once he enters the championship rounds for the first time in his first UFC main event, because this fight is anything but normal.