Now that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight division has two champions in both Dominick Cruz and the recently crowned interim champion, Renan Barao, the next step is all but a logical one. Have them fight each other to unify the belts and see who the real champion is at 135 pounds.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, there is still the issue of "The Dominator's" injury, which forced him out of his trilogy fight against Urijah Faber back at UFC 148, the reason the promotion was left with no other option but to match up Barao vs. Faber to vie for an interim belt in the absence of Cruz.
However, with no certain timetable set for Dominick's return, Renan will more than likely defend his interim belt against someone else if Cruz's layoff is a rather lengthy one.Though the number one contenders aren't lining up much like the UFC's welterweight and middleweight divisions are, there are still plenty of worthy challenges for Renan to face such as Eddie Wineland, Scott Jorgensen, Brian Bowles and Mike Easton, should he decide to fight rather than sit and wait.
Chief among those contenders, however, is Michael McDonald, who is currently riding an eight fight win streak, is undefeated in the UFC (4-0) and is coming off a first round knockout of former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres.
Oh, and he has only lost once during his four year mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
That resume in itself is more than enough to warrant a title shot and would give any fighter the right to start calling out the champion, unlike others who feel that they deserve a title shot after a loss, yes, I'm looking at you Michael Bisping.
Appearing on today's (July 23, 2012) episode of The MMA Hour, "Mayday" talks about what's next for him inside the Octagon as soon as he is fully healed from a hand injury and discusses whether or not he feels he is ready to challenge for the title:
"The way I go about it is very simple. It could be pretty much summed up as, look at the top six, and I could be fighting anyone in the top six. It depends who the UFC wants to put at number one, and everything revolves around that, and who they want the two people fighting for the title to be. It's not my decision or place to decide when or who does it. I just know that there are six people around that number I could be fighting. At all times, I have about six people on my radar I'm looking to fight and whoever the UFC throws in out of that six, that's who I fight. I feel like I'm good enough, yes. I feel like I can. I can do it. If I didn't feel like I could compete with these guys, I honestly wouldn't be here right now. I was very cautious and picked my career very well, to make sure I can compete at the level I'm at. So of course, I do believe I can compete with those guys."
Refusing to play the "call out" game, McDonald says he is more than confident in his skills to compete with best of the best in his division, but in no, way, shape or form is he looking to start calling people out. He is simply going to wait and let the powers that be at ZUFFA do the matchmaking:
"When I look at my career from an outside view, I've only fought one top 10 guy. Yeah, I've had quite a few fights in the UFC, but I've only had one top 10 fight, against Miguel Torres. I think I'm ready, but I've only had one top 10 fight. Look at these other guys who've been in the top 10 for so long. Brian Bowles, Eddie Wineland, Scott Jorgensen -- those guys have been top 10 for years. I've only been in the top 10 for six to eight months. That's why I don't know for sure. I think I'm ready if UFC wants to put me there, but looking at an outside perspective of what seems right for just my career, that's why I would say I'm not going to go out and call them out right now."
Though his humble approach to his career thus far is to be applauded, there is perhaps no one more deserving of a title shot than "Mayday" at the moment. He has proven to be a worthy contender at the tender age of 21 years old, and his best days, it seems, are ahead of him.
Anyone feel that McDonald should get the first shot at facing the recently crowned champion Barao, should Cruz be out for a lengthy period? If not, then who, in your eyes, is the next contender at 135-pounds?