This weekends UFC 145 main event between Champion Jon Jones vs Challenger Rashad Evans for the UFC Light Heavyweight title is the biggest grudge match the UFC has had since Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz II.
At UFC 145 however, there is three fast rising prospects that you need to watch and remember who they are because they all will be UFC champions in the future.
Rory MacDonald, who is probably the most well known prospect out of three we are profiling is the new breed of a Mixed Martial Artist. Fighters like Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture in their glory days did one or two disciplines that is in the umbrella of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) well. To evolve Ortiz and Couture, who were wrestlers had to learn to throw punches, kicks and submit their opponents to be relevant in the sport. MacDonald, who is just 22 years old, was growing up as MMA was blowing up and becoming mainstream. For this reason he can say he trains Mixed Martial Arts. He has not had the time to hone his skills on just one or two disciplines like his predecessors. The knowledge base for Macdonald and for the people that guide his career is also greater. Training out of the famous Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, MacDonald can call UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre a teammate.
MacDonald who started fighting professionally in MMA at the tender age of 16 has a professional record of 12-1. Of the 12 wins he has won via KO/TKO 5 times, submission 6 times, and went to decision once. His sole loss though, was what thrust him into many MMA fans minds. He took on current interim UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit at UFC 115. Thoroughly dominating Condit thru the first two rounds with his effective striking and takedowns, the third round was a different story. Condit came out with a guns a blazing approach in that third round, which took Macdonald by surprise, and cost him the win. MacDonald lost the fight via TKO, but the lessons learned by him in this fight was more valuable than a win. The bout against Condit also won the UFC Fight of the Night bonus award. MacDonald's next bout came against fast rising Nate Diaz at the huge UFC 129 show in Toronto, Canada at the Rodgers Centre. In this bout he dominated Diaz, highlighted by Rory, german suplexing Diaz three times. MacDonald won this bout by unanimous decision and some would argue that some rounds could of been scored 10-8. MacDonald followed that win up with a TKO winning performance against veteran and Xtreme Couture trained fighter Mike Pyle at UFC 133.
At next weekends UFC 145 PPV event from Atlanta, Georgia, MacDonald faces Ultimate Fighter castoff Che Mills. Honestly I do not see why UFC matchmaker extraordinaire Joe Silva would make this match-up. It does not make sense for MacDonald when opponents like Brian Ebersole, Jon Fitch and the semi-retired legends Matt Hughes and BJ Penn could be available. For Macdonald, it can be argued that he is on the same path and rise as current UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones was. If your watching UFC 145 this weekend bet MacDonald all day. This young fighter is the future of MMA.
"Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson is a good friend of mine, and also one of my best training partner(s). He has the tools to become (a) champion, it's only a matter of time for him and he's getting better every day."
"Wonderboy" is the best striker I've seen in my life, and he will have a lot of success in the UFC. "
-Current UFC welterweight champion and one of the top 3 Mixed Martial Artists, Pound for Pound Georges St Pierre
With that kind of endorsement does Stephen Thompson need to prove anything? Well the answer is yes, and he has. As an amateur, and professional kickboxer "Wonderboy" has amassed an amazing 63-0 combined record in kickboxing. Of those wins a whopping 30 have been by knockout!
Thompson was at one time the #1 ranked kickboxer in the Chuck Norris World Combat League. Thompson holds or has held over 15 amateur/professional kickboxing titles.(13 amateur, 2 professional). These titles are from organizations such as ISKA, IKF, PKC, USAKBF, WPKA, IAKSA, and WAKO.
Thompson has been studying Martial Arts for 25 years or since he was 3 years old. "Wonderboy" holds black belts in Kempo Karate, Jiu Jitsu, and Kickboxing. He is currently studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) under brother-in-law Carlos Machado.
Thompson is a very well rounded Mixed Martial Artist. He currently has a professional MMA record of 6-0. His six wins have come by 3 KO/TKO's, 1 submission and 2 decisions. "Wonderboy" burst onto the UFC scene by delivering a devasting head kick knockout in his UFC debut at UFC 143 to his opponent Dan Stittgen. Thompson's debut was the first bout of UFC 143 and he went on to win the post fight knockout of the night award.
At UFC 145, Thompson faces the very tough, UFC veteran Matt "The Immortal" Brown. Brown himself is a very good striker, but Thompson is better. Brown will be over-matched, and Thompson will not win this fight with his high level striking skills but on the ground, where Brown in the past has shown weakness. Bet Thompson to win and win by guillotine choke.
Our final fighter we are going to preview is the youngest fighter and he has the most professional Mixed Martial Arts experience out of the three.
Michael "Mayday" McDonald has been training in martial arts since he was 10 years old. When he was 10 he learned and trained in kickboxing, then at 14 years old he started training in MMA. After only 2 years of formal training "Mayday" turned pro in MMA.
McDonald made a name for himself on the regional circuit by taking on and defeating some of the best World Extreme Cagefighting(WEC) veterans in Manny Tapia and Cole Escovedo. Escovedo handed "Mayday" his first professional loss. "Mayday" lost by TKO but later went on to avenge that loss by knocking out Escovedo (07.09.10) in round 2 at Tachi Palace Fights 5, Stars and Stripes. In 15 professional MMA bouts, McDonald has a record of 14-1. Of the wins he has amassed, 8 have come from KO/TKO, 4 by submissions, and 2 by decisions. In September 2010, McDonald signed with the WEC/UFC/Zuffa. At the time of the signing he became the youngest fighter (Age 19) on the fighter roster. McDonald made his Zuffa/WEC debut at WEC 52 (11.11.10) and defeated Clint Godfrey by first round armbar submission. Soon after his promotional debut with the WEC the WEC merged with their big brother the UFC and McDonald made his debut there. "Mayday" made his UFC debut March 26, 2011 at UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs Davis against Edwin Figueroa. This fight was highly entertaining, with McDonald winning via unanimous decision and the fighters were awarded with the post fight, Fight of the Night award for their efforts. In his next bout Mcdonald took a fight on short notice replacing the legendary Kid Yamamoto against Chris Cariaso at UFC 130 (05.28.11). A back and forth battle where "Mayday" got the split decision victory. In his most recent bout at the historic UFC 139: Shogun vs Henderson card (11.19.11) Mcdonald took on UFC newcomer Alex Soto (who was an injury replacement for Johnny Eduardo). "Mayday" displayed his dynamic striking skills, and quickly knocking out Soto in just 56 seconds into round 1. For his efforts McDonald was awarded with the post fight Knockout of the Night award. This was McDonald's second post fight bonus award in three UFC fights.
Michael McDonald is scheduled to face former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres at UFC 145. Torres will be "Mayday's" toughest opponent to date. Torres had a rough stretch in his last 6 fights. He went 3 and 3. However those losses have been to top 10 opponents in the bantamweight division (Brian Bowles, Demetrious Johnson, and Joseph Benavidez). McDonald is a high level striker with knockout power. Torres's gameplan in this fight will be to avoid "Mayday's" strikes and get the fight to the ground asap. If Torres can not do this, the outcome will be similar for him as the Bowles fight. This is the toughest fight of the three to pick, but my gut says McDonald because Torres has lost that Chuck Liddell auroa he once had.
McDonald wins in a fight of the year canidate by unanimous decision.
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