Michael McDonald Fight Metric profile
Brad Pickett Fight Metric profile
It seems people are confused about who should be the favorite between Michael McDonald and Brad Pickett. One sportsbook opened Pickett as a -260 favorite, a line so bad they were forced to take it down. Other books then opened McDonald as a -200 or better favorite but I’ve seen a lot of reaction suggesting the fight is more competitive than that.
I’m not sure what has people so confused. When I look at how McDonald and Pickett match up, McDonald as a strong favorite seems accurate to me.
The biggest problem for Pickett is that he simply does not avoid strikes. He gets hit by a whopping 4.68 significant strikes per minute, one of the worst rates in the UFC. To put this in perspective, Joey Beltran gets hit by 4.72 significant strikes per minute. Beltran is not the fighter you want to be compared to as an aspiring title contender.
On the other side, McDonald is known to have terrific knock out power for the bantamweight division. His four knockdowns in 144 strikes landed ranks alongside Brian Bowles and Hugo Viana as the best ratio in the UFC.
It seems like a pretty simple formula. One guy hits extremely hard, and the other guy gets hit a lot. It’s the perfect recipe for a knockout.
If Pickett wants to win this fight, he should abandon any ideas of engaging in a brawl and instead turn to his wrestling. Pickett is unique among British fighters in that he has very good takedown offense. He’s landed 3.1 takedowns per 15 minutes at 51% accuracy in his UFC/WEC career. He landed ten takedowns in one fight against Demetrious Johnson. It’s his takedowns, not his striking, that is the strength of his MMA game.
Of course, I’ve said that about Pickett every time I’ve picked him to win a fight. His willingness/ability to land takedowns is very inconsistent. All of his 21 takedowns have been concentrated in four fights. In the other five fights, Pickett didn’t land any takedowns and ended up winning just two out of five.
I think Pickett is capable of landing takedowns on McDonald, but I don’t know if he can do it consistently. McDonald’s takedown defense is still questionable. He did really well defending takedowns against a series of non-wrestlers like Chris Cariaso but was taken down four times by Renan Barao. Pickett lands more takedowns than anybody McDonald has faced, so I anticipate he’ll succeed… assuming he tries.
If Pickett follows the smart game plan and goes for takedowns, his biggest challenge will be to hold McDonald down. McDonald has shown a good guard game at various points in his brief career and is unlikely to just stay on his back and let Pickett land strikes. It’s not good enough for Pickett to just land a takedown, he needs to show he can control McDonald on the ground too. Easier said than done.
So for Pickett to be a likely winner… he needs to land takedowns, control McDonald on the ground, and do that consistently for three rounds. With Pickett’s history of brawling, I highly doubt he’ll follow that strategy. It’s much more likely that Pickett will abandon the takedown game at some point. Against McDonald, that’s the worst thing he can do, which is why he’ll probably do it.
Pick: Michael McDonald by KO