Former bantamweight title contender Michael McDonald was granted a release from his UFC contract and is now a free agent.
Late Thursday, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that bantamweight contender Michael McDonald was granted a release from his UFC contract. The news comes after previous reports that McDonald was struggling to receive financial support from the UFC and had to take a break from fighting in order to save up for the expenses of a training camp.
McDonald states in the report:
“The UFC was dishonest in the way they tried to do business with me and it’s resulted in a complete waste of my time. I want to feel like my employer isn’t out trying to cut my head off. I’m looking to enter a mutually respectful business contract with another fight organization.”
UFC officials have yet to make a comment regarding the matter.
The news is surprising as McDonald was considered one of the perennial contenders in the bantamweight division. Most recently, he was stopped by top contender John Lineker in July. Had he been successful, he could have conceivably been matched up in a title eliminator with former champion TJ Dillashaw. Instead, “Mayday” is now a free agent who will likely be fielding offers from Bellator and World Series of Fighting among others.
McDonald leaves the UFC after compiling a 6-3 record with the promotion. He started his UFC career with a perfect 4-0 record, punctuated by his first round KO over former WEC bantamweight kingpin Miguel Torres. The victory earned him a shot against then interim champion Renan Barao. McDonald lost the fight by submission in the fourth round, but his resilience and young age left everyone believing that he would remain in title contention for a long time to come.
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He rebounded with an impressive submission over Brad Pickett before facing the most high profile bout of his career. In a featured bout on FOX, McDonald faced veteran Urijah Faber. Despite the age difference, Faber put on one of the best performances of his career in stopping the young prospect.
Injuries kept McDonald away from the Octagon for three years between 2013 and 2016. He would return early last year with a submission win over Masanori Kanehara before dropping the bout to Lineker.
Earlier this year, Okamoto also reported that McDonald was looking to discuss his future with the UFC as his issues left him unable to financial support his fighting career. Going forward, McDonald is still young enough to impact another promotion. At 26-years-old, he is a young and explosive multi-faceted fighter who is well-versed on the ground and has demonstrated impressive knockout power.